palms or ashes?
"On His approach to the descent from Mount Olivet, the entire crowd of disciples began to rejoice and praise God loudly." —Luke 19:37
The palms of Palm Sunday will either continue to be used as palms to praise the Lord or they will be burned to become the ashes of Ash Wednesday. They symbolize the best and worst possibilities for Holy Week.
Our palms turn to ashes when:
- our "Hosannas" change to "Crucify Him" (Lk 23:21),
- the Palm Sunday parade doesn't lead to the way of the cross,
- we stop praising the Lord openly and instead give Him the "silent treatment" (see Lk 22:57-60), and
- we don't make Holy Week absolutely our top priority.
Our palms remain as palms, and perhaps even our ashes return to palms when:
- morning after morning we open our ears to God (Is 50:4),
- we repent of our sins (see Lk 22:62) and go to Confession,
- we publicly proclaim: "JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!" (Phil 2:11), and
- we make Holy Week our top priority.
In heaven, the saints stand "before the throne and the Lamb, dressed in long white robes and holding palm branches in their hands" (Rv 7:9). Some palms and Palm Sundays last forever. Yours can as well. With the heavenly saints, hold your palms and cry out "in a loud voice: 'Salvation is from our God, Who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!' " (Rv 7:10)
Prayer: "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit" (Lk 23:46).
Promise: "This day you will be with Me in paradise." —Lk 23:43
Praise: "Blessed is He Who comes as King in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Lk 19:38)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, September 13, 2012
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