In the Holy City, Palm Sunday is divided into three parts: the celebration of Holy Mass at Bethphage on the Saturday morning, the celebration and blessing of the Palms at the Holy Sepulchre on the Sunday morning and the important afternoon procession, in the steps of Jesus, from Bethphage to Jerusalem.
The first part, in which local Christians and pilgrims, as well as the Indian Catholic community, traditionally take part, marked the end of the peregrinations of Lent. "The readings tell us of annunciation and incarnation: it seems strange but the Holy Week is the same mystery: incarnation and redemption,” highlightedFr. RamziSidawi, the Bursar of the Custody, during the celebration in Bethphage. "We remember a King who comes, who spoke against war; a humble King, riding on a donkey, who comes to give peace and life." Fr. Ramzivery much wanted to connect the joy of the disciples in the entrance into Jerusalem with the fear and despondency that overcame them immediately afterward, remembering that Jesus said: "If they keep silent, the stones will cry out" (Luke 19, 40). "We are invited to dissolve in the mystery of the redemption, to make the stones that are inside us speak. The invitation for life is that: to bear witness to the King, to live and announce the kingdom in our hearts in be instruments of peace."
The Sunday morning celebration was presided by Monsignor PierbattistaPizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who blessed the Palms in the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre.
Immediately afterward, right in front of the Edicule, the Pontifical Mass was celebrated, during which the emotional participation and the reflection of the faithful enthralled not only by the festivity but also by the place in which it was being celebrated, was palpable. "I can’t believe I am here,” saidMarìa, a pilgrim from Ukraine, “for us this place means a great deal and being here today is truly a grace.”
In the early afternoon, helped by the warm wind, the Khamsin, which lowered the temperatures, the traditional processing from Bethphage to Jerusalem began, one of the most important moments for the public life of the Christians in the Holy Land. As every year, a huge number of groups took part in the procession, livening up the route with joy and enthusiasm. Local Christians (Israelis and Palestinians), Polish, French, Italian, Spanish, Asian, African and American groups: they were present from all over the world to follow the journey that took Jesus to the Holy City. "Following in the steps of Jesus is what we are called to do every day as Christians," said Anna, an Italian pilgrim, extremely moved, and it was in exactly these steps that the Church walked on this day. At the end of the procession, a girl from Bethlehem spoke and told of her experience at the World Youth Day in Panama and introduced the final speech of the Apostolic Administrator.
"What we have experienced today: love, friendship, fraternity, pride and joy at being Christians and this deep unity, does not come from us but from Jesus," observed Monsignor Pizzaballa. "We, the authorities of the Churches must learn from days like today. Despite our enormous daily suffering, we continue to be the image of the Resurrection of Christ.”