Each year Palm Sunday is a special day in Jerusalem, a day when the streets are filled with the faithful, pilgrims from all over the world, and joy. This year, however, it took place, as in other parts of the world, without any joyous assembly, due to the restrictions due to the health emergency. The Pontifical Mass which is celebrated in the Holy Sepulchre in the early morning still took place, but behind closed doors. It was presided by Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who blessed the palms in the Holy Edicule. The Mass of Palm Sunday was celebrated in the presence of a few Franciscan friars from the Custody and some seminarians of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa also found the way to reach the faithful of the local Church and the world. In the early afternoon, he decided to go to the shrine of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives, from where he pronounced a message and blessed Jerusalem. He was joined by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton and a small group representing the Franciscans and the local clergy.
The bishop’s special prayer was streamed live by the Christian Media Center, to allow participation even from afar.
Mons. Pizzaballa explained the reason: “Jerusalem is the symbol of the Church and of the whole of humanity, it is the house of prayer for all men, according to the Holy Scriptures. When we weep over Jerusalem together with Jesus from here, we weep over the whole of the human fraternity for this difficult moment that it is going through and for this sad Palm Sunday. Sad but essential.” Dominus Flevit is the shrine built on the spot where Jesus wept, after having looked at Jerusalem and predicted its destruction, for not having recognized the Messiah (Luke 19, 41-44).
From the Mount of Olives, Jesus entered Jerusalem amidst the rejoicing throng. “The meaning that Jesus gives to his “triumphant entrance” is different from the meaning that the population of Jerusalem had seen in it,” Mons. Pizzaballa explained. “Perhaps this is the lesson that Jesus wants to give us today. We address God when there is something that hurts us.” Before man’s request to solve every problem, even in these times of Coronavirus, “Jesus answers in his own way.” “Precisely because Jesus says “yes” to our deepest desires, he will have to say “no” to our immediate wishes,” Pizzaballa continued. “The story of the great entrance into Jerusalem is therefore a lesson on the discrepancies between our expectations and God’s answer. [...] The Gospel, however, tells us that the Christian faith is founded on hope and love, not on certainty. He will not solve all our problems, he will not give us all the certainties our human nature needs, but he will not leave us alone. We know that he loves us.” (The complete message is here.)
The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate then blessed Jerusalem with the relic of the Holy Cross. “The city is closed, the world is closed. We have to stay open with our hearts, with our intentions and with prayer,” commented the Bishop. “Prayer can overcome the barriers inside and outside each one of us.”