Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem delivers speech after Procession of Palm Sunday
Text of Patriarch Fouad Twal’s speech
Dear Excellencies, dear brothers and sisters, dear pilgrims and faithful from around the world,
We have just commemorated the entry of our Lord Jesus into Jerusalem. With this Palm Sunday, we start the Holy Week, the most important mysteries of our faith: the Death and Resurrection of our Lord.
We read in the Palm Sunday Gospel, personalities and protagonists who participated from near and far in the events of our salvation. We ask ourselves today: with which of these individuals do I identify? In my attitudes and in my behavior and actions towards God, the Church, my neighbors, my family, my community, which one do I most resemble?
There is Judas Iscariot, who for a miniscule price sold his master, betrayed his trust, friendship and abandoned the Lord’s company.
Then we have Simon of Cyrene who helped the Lord carry his Cross, participating in his fatigue and suffering.
We have Peter who used his sword to defend the Lord. But he also denied the Lord though later he repented and wept for his sins. Despite this frailty, the Lord chose him to lead the Church and the flock, telling him “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18)
There is Pontius Pilate, a coward who betrayed his conscience, and, who despite a conviction of the Lord’s innocence, condemned Him, to please the crowd, the chief priests and the elders who asked for the death of Jesus and to satisfy the emperor. Pilate did not have the courage to make a just decision, and washed his hands saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.” (Mt 27:24)
Dear friends and faithful do you see yourself in any of these characters set before us? Do any of the behaviors reflect yours? Are you convicted of any wrong conduct or incorrect attitudes in your life in your relationship to God, in your faith, in your responsibilities with your family and with society, or in your dealings with people around you?
People of Jesus’ time looked for a King to lead them to salvation, more peace and freedom. Some had hoped Jesus was this King. They accompanied Jesus from Bethphage to Jerusalem, chanting “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” (Mt 21:9) Yet this very same crowd is indecisive and fickle. A few days later, after the joyful Sunday procession, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, this very same crowd had a drastic change of heart and furiously cried out to Pilate: “Crucify him, crucify him.” (Lk 23:21) They did not want Jesus to be their King.
Dear faithful and pilgrims, I heartily welcome you to the Holy Land to pray with us during this Holy Week. Thank you for your participation in this long procession. Your presence is an expression of your love for our Lord as we together suffer with Him and experience the Passion of the Holy Week. I ask the Lord to bless us all, to give us the peace that we urgently and desperately need in our hearts and in a special way in this His Holy Land. May our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary who accompanied our Lord during his life on earth be with us, walk with us, guide us and protect us. A blessed Holy Week to one and all.