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Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday (Red)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

This day inaugurates Holy Week. Traditionally, it opens with the Liturgy of the Palms. This is a memorial of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the episode that marked the beginning of his Passover. It also includes the reading (or singing) of a complete passion narrative (Matthew, Mark, or Luke according to the three– year cycle). This reading provides the narrative purpose of the week that follows, and dominates the celebration of the day itself, even when the celebration opens with the liturgy of the palms. To reflect this, the BAS gives this Sunday the newer title, “The Sunday of the Passion, with the Liturgy of the Palms.” It is interesting to note that the loss of the title “Palm Sunday” has been addressed in some places by calling the day “Palm Sunday of the Passion.” In one tradition the colour of the Liturgy of the Palms is red and that of the Eucharist, violet.
In some places the Liturgy of the Passion is not celebrated today on the grounds that it is celebrated through the week, especially on Good Friday. It should be remembered that this is the ONLY Sunday in the year when the synoptic passion narratives are read in their entirety, the magisterial Johannine passion being reserved for Good Friday. The stark contrast between the Liturgy of the Palms and the Liturgy of the Passion celebrated together helps communities enter more deeply into the paradox of the paschal mystery which unfolds more spaciously in the ensuing weekdays.

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