On Palm Sunday, Diocese's faithful urged to ponder how they would follow Jesus
By Rose O’Connor | Correspondent
The “week of crowds” was exactly that as faithful across the Diocese gathered in their respective churches on Passion Sunday, holding palms to commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
In parishes such as St. David the King, West Windsor, and St. Maximilian Kolbe, Toms River, Holy Week began March 25 with congregants hearing how Jesus was welcomed by throngs of people spreading palm branches along the road while shouting “Hosanna.”
Photo Gallery: Bishop celebrates Palm Sunday in West Windsor
Photo Gallery: Palm Sunday in St. Maximilian Kolbe Church
“Today, Palm Sunday, the crowds welcome Jesus with great enthusiasm. By Holy Thursday, the town seems eerily quiet,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., preached in his homily in St. David the King Church after he blessed the palms alongside Father Timothy J. Capewell, pastor.
He continued by explaining that the crowd substantially lessens to the 12 apostles, who gather with Jesus for the Passover supper by Holy Thursday – where Jesus washes the apostles’ feet, speaks of service and shares the gift of his Body and Blood.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, he said, “the 12 minus 1 are confronted by a crowd of soldiers who arrest Jesus. Then the crowd becomes ugly on Good Friday. The apostles scatter as the crowds’ ‘Hosannas’ are replaced by, ‘Crucify him!’ And, so, the crowd watches Jesus die, and the crowd is reduced to his Mother, his mother’s sister, Mary Magdalene and John the Apostle. They go home and Jesus is taken to the tomb.
“On Sunday, a small crowd of women return to the tomb to find the stone rolled back: the tomb is empty.”
This week of crowds, Bishop O’Connell said, “always moves me to ask myself, in what crowd would I find myself? How about you?”
That question resonated with Kathy Stueber, a parishioner of St. Raphael- Holy Angels, Hamilton. “I thought that his homily was stirring – it really gave me pause to think. What crowd would I be in?”
Similar feelings on the significance of Palm Sunday and Holy Week were expressed in St. Maximilian Kolbe Church.
Barbara Zakrzewski, a parishioner of the Ocean County parish, offered, “Holy Week is a very special time in many, many ways. The spirituality of it is really special to me and my family,” she said, mentioning her fondness for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and veneration of the Cross on Good Friday.
Fellow congregant Jack O’Shea said, “Without question, it’s the holiest week of the year. The week starts on a high note, goes through a sorrowful time and ends with a brilliant and beautiful Resurrection on Easter Sunday.”
Freelance photographer Mike Ehrmann contributed to this story.[[In-content Ad]]