'All Glory Laud And Honor' -- Bishop O'Connell blesses the palms before the entrance procession to the Mass he celebrated in Visitation Church, Brick. At right is Father Edward Blanchett, pastor. John Batkowski photos
'All Glory Laud And Honor' -- Bishop O'Connell blesses the palms before the entrance procession to the Mass he celebrated in Visitation Church, Brick. At right is Father Edward Blanchett, pastor. John Batkowski photos

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., made a pastoral visit to Visitation Parish, Brick, March 20 where he celebrated Mass to mark Palm Sunday, also known as the celebration of the Lord’s Passion. The day also marked the start of Holy Week. Joining Bishop O’Connell at the altar was Father Edward Blanchett, pastor, and Father James O’Neill, parochial vicar.

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In his homily, Bishop O’Connell made an analogy, likening the significance of Palm Sunday to that of the building of a house.

“When building a house, the location of the front door is a critically important part of the planning. The door is the entrance way to the rest of the house. It is the place from which a person gets a first glimpse and first impression of what is inside,” he said. Similarly, said the Bishop, Palm Sunday is “liturgically speaking, the front doorway to Holy Week.”

“As we enter any house through its door, so Jesus enters the ‘house of Holy Week’ through ‘the door’ that is Jerusalem, through the door that is Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday. And as his followers – a community of faith and belief in him, we Christians enter the ‘front door’ with him into this holiest of weeks.”

Referring to his image of the inside of a house and noting that the first impression is not the lasting impression, Bishop O’Connell recounted the movements of Palm Sunday and how the view of what was initially taking place was “a bit deceiving.” At the start of Palm Sunday, the crowds are cheering to Jesus the King and throwing palms and olive branches at his feet and jubilantly chanting “hosannas to the Son of David.” Yet, as the hours and days progress, the “environment changes” and “we get a different picture and impression of what the rest of the house has to offer.”

“Soon in the story of Holy Week, the crowd will turn ugly,” said Bishop O’Connell. “The cheers will become jeers. The supporters abandon their palms and thin out. Even the apostles scatter as Jesus walks the path to Calvary. No more palms, no more olive branches. No more hosannas. Only shame, condemnation and spitting. Where did all the ‘glory, laud and honor’ go?”

Once again going back to the image of building a house, the Bishop said that “from the front door where we stand in the liturgy today and through which we pass into Holy Week, we see Jerusalem before us.”

“And we suddenly realize that the house looks a bit different than what we first saw and thought,” he said. “Our first impression didn’t last. My sisters and brothers, in Jesus Christ ours is a God who is willing to suffer not only for us but with us.”

“Jesus Christ knows what we go through – everything we go through – from the inside and that is what he brings through the front door of Palm Sunday to his home of Good Friday, to his place on the Cross.”