Sunday, April 5, 2009
Sometimes known as Palm Sunday because the Gospel chosen for this Sunday starts with Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem just prior to passover. Historically this is Passion Sunday in which the whole passion narrative is read as the Gospel. It is a longer mass, because all 4 scripture readings are longer and we have some additional special prayers and readings.
The 2000 year history of our faith is rich in symbolism and rituals based in our Jewish roots. Many of the prayers of the Church can easily be seen as Jewish prayers and blessings. The early Church almost immediately had to go underground because of severe persecution throughout the Roman world. So symbols and signs, like the Ichthus, and the Crucifix were identifiers to other Christians. Possessing these symbols could also bring death! However denying them would be unthinkable and many Christians that remain unnamed perished as unnamed martyrs of the Faith!
Let us never be ashamed of the Church or it's practices, many have died to bring them down to us! As Paul Says "I am not ashamed of the cross of Christ". The earliest crosses had the crucified Christ proudly displayed on them, which spoke the gospel message without words! Other symbols of Christ came later, in our history but are still revered for their connection to Jesus, of whom we should never be ashamed to identify ourselves.
As Gamaliel said of the early Church " For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." (Acts 5)