Well-meaning parish leaders approached me to announce that they were planning a different Palm Sunday procession this year.  They found a horse, and they want me to ride a horse-drawn carriage for a change since the past years I merely walked in the procession. I joked that I prefer to ride the horse itself as I have never done that before.  Later I explained that I prefer to walk again this year as I have always done in the past. Maybe my answer would have been different if they searched for a humble carabao for me to ride!
This day’s procession starts the Holy Week. It is a festive and joyful procession as we recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The crowds were beside themselves in joy.  the people simply loved the thought that here comes finally the King who is expected to set them free.
But for Jesus, the procession was very distant from the people’s vision and understanding.  This procession was a humble one for the Lord.  He comes as king, yes.  He comes as victor, yes. He comes as the Messiah long awaited.  But he comes in humility, riding, not a warhorse, but a humble donkey, the working man’s beast of burden.
This procession is a humble procession because Jesus will challenge people to change their perception of the Kingdom of God – far from the notions of monarchy, conflicts, battle and political power.  He will lead people to purify their minds and hearts and enter into the path of love, forgiveness, transformation and service.  This is the arena he wished to enter and the place where he intends to lead his disciples to explore.
Today’s procession is also a painful procession. Jesus knew that the end of the road is not all palm branches and songs and praises.  What awaits him in Jerusalem is the cross.  And so, Jesus must have been terrified and afraid.  But Jesus went through with all because he was confident that God was journeying with him.
We Filipinos love Palm Sunday procession with its glittering traditions and enticing spectacles. But can we move away from the externals and enter into the procession of the heart?
In what way is the Lord asking us this Holy Week to walk our procession in humility?  How do we admit our imperfections and accept our lack of love and commitment to God and neighbor?  Let us ask the Lord to give us the gift of humility to encounter him and make peace with our brothers and sisters.
In what way is the Lord asking us also to walk our procession in pain? Can we bring to Holy Week the anguish of our minds and hearts, the pains of our bodies, the guilt of our soul?  It is frightening to confront these things but only if we carry the cross with Jesus and offer it to him, will we find forgiveness and freedom.