The celebration began among the spring flowers of the Cathedral garden, where Bishop Peter blessed palm crosses with holy water. There was then a reading of the entry into Jerusalem from St Matthew’s Gospel before the people acted it out in public witness, processing in a windy walk down Unthank Road.
Entering the Cathedral, the large congregation filled the building and listened to the long reading of the Passion according to St Matthew, read in parts with Bishop Peter speaking the words of Jesus.
“Who is this?” asked Bishop Peter as he opened his homily. “This is Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
“Today,” he went on, “we bear witness to how quickly the mood can change from acclamation to condemnation…There is speculation in the air. Some voices demand nothing more than a shallow performance, for some can only perceive a miracle as some kind of spectacle.
“The vast majority have no real grasp of who Jesus really is. Even his closest companions have not fully grasped the reality of who He is and what He is about to accomplish.”
Bishop Peter then encouraged the people to pray earnestly and consistently through Holy Week. “If there is no established pattern to our daily prayer,” he said, “let us rectify the failing. As the prophet Isaiah proclaims: each morning He wakes me, to listen like a disciple.
“There is much for us to learn, and time is short. Listen then to the Sacred Scriptures, listen to every detail of what He unfolds.”
The Bishop then turned to the painful theme of betrayal: “We should all feel threatened by the realisation that betrayal is but a short sequence of decisions away. Evil builds its momentum slowly. A man, captured by pride and greed, a man who grasped just thirty silver pieces, betrayed the one whose state was divine.”
Finally, Bishop Peter cast a look at the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed that the Father’s will would be done. “Thus, Jesus embraces every one of us through the ages, from the dawn of time to the end of time.
“Who is this? This is the man, this is the prophet, this is the Christ, this is God incarnate.”
Pictured above is Bishop Peter following the procession of palms towards St John’s Cathedral. You can see a gallery of the Palm Sunday celebration by clicking on the link or the picture below.