Palm Sunday



Palm Sunday marks the transition from Lent into Holy Week.  The anointed king of David enters the royal city.  Yet he chooses for his vehicle a common beast of burden.

Keep in mind that when a conquering hero of the ancient world rode into town in triumph, it was normally in a regal chariot or on the back of a stately stallion. Legions of soldiers accompanied him in the victory procession. Triumphal arches, festooned with relief sculptures, were often erected to immortalize his valiant victory.

After driving out demons, healing the sick, and raising the dead, it was time for the King of Kings to enter the Holy City. But to do so, he rode not on the back of a warhorse, but a donkey. His companions accompanied him brandishing not swords, but palm branches. The monument to his victory, erected a week later, was not an arch, but a crucifix.

His earthly beginning was frightfully humble. And his earthly end would be no different. The wood of the manger prefigured the wood of the cross.

From beginning to end, the details are humiliating. No room in the inn. Born amidst the stench of a stable. Hunted by Herod’s henchmen. 


That’s why on Palm or Passion Sunday we read the powerful words of Paul’s letter from the Philippians (2:6-11). Though the Divine Word was God, dwelling in the serene heights of heavenly glory, he freely plunged to the depths of human misery, joining himself to our frail nature, entering into our turbulent world. As if this act of humility were not enough, he further humbled himself, accepting the status of a slave. His act of stooping down to wash the feet of his disciples (Jn. 13) was a parable of his whole human existence, for this act was regarded as so undignified that not even Israelite slaves could be compelled to do it.

But that’s just it. Jesus was not compelled to do it. He willingly lowered himself in his birth, in his ministry, in his death. No one took his life from him. He freely laid down his own life (Jn. 10:18). Others did not have the chance to humble him; he humbled himself.

Prayer at home on Palm Sunday | Diocese Of Cork and Ross


What is Palm Sunday?

Prayer at home on Palm Sunday | Diocese Of Cork and Ross

God’s Word tells us the people cut palm branches and waved them in the air, laid them out on the ground before Jesus as He rode into the city. The palm branch represented goodness and victory and was symbolic of the final victory He would soon fulfil over death.

Jesus chose to ride in on a donkey, which directly fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. In Biblical times, it was common for kings or important people to arrive by a procession riding on a donkey. The donkey symbolized peace, so those who chose to ride them showed that they came with peaceful intentions. Jesus even then reminded us that He is the Prince of Peace.

What is Palm Sunday?

When the people shouted “Hosanna!” they were hailing Christ as King. That word actually means “save now,” and though in their own minds they waited for an earthly king, God had a different way in mind of bringing true salvation to all who would trust in Him.

The Gospels say that Jesus wept for Jerusalem. In the midst of the praise of the moment, He knew in His heart that it wouldn’t be long that these same people would turn their backs on Him, betray Him, and crucify Him. His heart broke with the reality of how much they needed a Saviour.

Palm Sunday reminds us that the reign of Christ is far greater than any the mind of man could ever conceive or plan. Man looked for someone to fight their battles in the present day world. Yet God had the ultimate plan of sending His Son to fight the final battle over death. This is the greatness of why we celebrate this week. Because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, we can be set free of death.

Lent is a time to think of others

Times are difficult for everyone at the moment particularly the most vulnerable people in the world. On this Palm Sunday perhaps we can help the Lenten Campaign of Trocaire. Trocaire is the overseas development agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which facilitates. our commitment to the needs of the Third World.  

Read more: Trocaire


Readings for Palm Sunday

Gospel at the procession with palms describes Jesus entering Jerusalem as the crowds shout, “Hosanna!”

The First Reading from Isaiah tells the people that the Lord’s servant will stand firm even when persecuted.

A cry for help to the Lord in the face of evildoers. (Psalm).

St. Paul to the Philippians (Second Reading) reminds us Christ was obedient even to death, but God has exalted him.

The events of Jesus’ passion are proclaimed in their entirety. (Gospel of Mark). We will hear these events proclaimed again when we celebrate the Easter Triduum later in the week. On Good Friday, we will read the passion of Jesus from the Gospel of John.

During Holy Week, we prayerfully remember the events of Jesus’ passion and death. As we meditate on the cross, we ask again and anew what it means to make the statement of faith that Jesus, in his obedient suffering and dying, revealed himself to us as God’s Son.

Today’s Mass Readings
Sunday’s Mass Readings
Thought for Today
Saints of the Day

Palm Sunday Prayer

Loving God, as we step into Holy Week, we remember your triumphant entry into Jerusalem. We sing your praises, shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” You alone are the true King, the leader greater than all others. Even so, in your great mercy you chose to become like us, taking on human form and living among us. As we celebrate and shout “Hosanna” today, may we remember what will soon follow. Keep us faithful in word and deed, and help us to love you always.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.   


Loving God, We praise you in a special way today as we celebrate Palm Sunday. Be with us as we begin our journey through Holy Week that we may draw closer to you, knowing suffering and death, yet remaining hopeful in the life you promise.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. 



Lots more Lenten resources here