Archbishop John Wong presides Palm Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral Apr 4
By Agnes Chai
April 4, 2020
KARAMUNSING (CS) – There was no waving of palms, no procession with palms, no crowds, but we have ‘spiritually’ entered the Gateway to Holy Week. We have celebrated Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion with Masses live streamed from various parishes.
Palm Sunday is the fourth Sunday since the suspension of Mass was declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether actual or spiritual, this is the day that we bear witness to God and to each other, that we acclaim Christ as our King and Saviour.
“We are not about play-acting,” preached Archbishop John Wong during the online Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral Apr 4. “We are celebrating and participating in a present reality – the anxiety, the agony, the suffering, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, made present here for us – so that we could have a share in His love and life,” asserted the Archbishop.
He reminded the audience who were following the Mass online that Palm Sunday sums up the entire Holy Week into a single celebration, beginning from Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, to being falsely accused, betrayal, tragedy, defeat and ending in death. But it did not stop at death, said the Archbishop, it ends in the greatest triumph that anyone could ever imagine … because Jesus rose from the dead!
From the Gospel (before the Procession) Archbishop Wong painted a vivid picture of Jesus’ triumphant entry into the Holy City, and explained that parades and processions were Jewish traditions in acclaiming their heroes who would eventually fade away and be forgotten. But not for Jesus Christ whom we acclaimed as our King, asserted Archbishop Wong, Who, he acknowledged would fade, but only temporarily in His Passion and Death, but Who would rise again from the dead and live on forever.
That Jesus lives today in our midst, and that He invites us to journey with Him to the Mount of Calvary, where we would die with Him and rise with Him, the reality of which is keenly felt today as He continues to speak to us from the Word of God, underscored the preacher.
Archbishop Wong maintained that throughout Holy Week Jesus would speak to our human condition and all that it contains – its mystery, anguish, anxiety, sorrow, agony, and in these particular days the weariness of having to deal with the tragedy of the coronavirus – because He Himself has experienced them all in order to be close to us.
He said, God wants us to understand, accept and share in this weariness, anxiety, agony but to do so by taking up the attitude of Christ who “did not cling to His equality with God but emptied Himself to assume the condition of a slave”, with the humility and obedience of a servant, and out of pure love.
This then is the mind, the mentality, the desire that we must seek to make our own – just as Jesus struggled to empty Himself and trust His Father to the end – to give up everything, to empty ourselves of our own will and desire to control our lives, and to trust the Father totally to the end, concluded Archbishop Wong. So in these holy days (Holy Week), in our homes, we pray “Lord, increase the faith of those who place their hope and trust in you” so that “we may bear good fruits for you”, in our not being concerned about what we lack, but what good we can do for others.