PARAÑAQUE City, April 15, 2014—In a solemn homily on April 13 that captured the spirit of the season, Parañaque Bishop Jesse Eugenio Mercado reminded parishioners about their unconscious participation in Christ’s Passion through their own “personal Jerusalem.”
“Like Christ, each one of us has his own Jerusalem, a personal Jerusalem, which we must embrace. You will know you are in this Jerusalem when you make a decision that is final and you cannot undo it anymore,” Mercado explained to hundreds of mass attendees at the Cathedral Parish of St. Andrew in La Huerta.
According to Mercado, who also heads the Episcopal Commission on the Laity (ECLA), this personal “Jerusalem” is a struggle with “no turning back”.
“Jerusalem means having friends this day and having foes the next day. Also like Christ, we must always have the courage to obey the will of Our Heavenly Father,” he added.
In hushed tones, the prelate explained that the people who were cheering for Jesus were the very same people who would scream “Crucify Him!” later on.
But Mercado pointed out that behind this story of seeming victory lurks betrayal and deceit, offering an invaluable lesson to each Christian.
The special event marked “Palm Sunday” (also called: “Domingo de Ramos” and “Linggo ng Palaspas”), the first day of Holy Week, during which Mercado recalled Jesus Christ’s “triumphal entry into Jerusalem” for the completion of the Paschal Mystery as told in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (21:1-11).
“Christ’s entry into the City of David caused so much brouhaha. The people of Jerusalem went out of their way to welcome Him, crying out His name. They were even waving palm branches to highlight the significance of the occasion. Something which harked back to King David’s own welcome centuries before,” the bishop said in Filipino.
This gesture also echoes the song being sung as Mercado, who was clothed in symbolic red, inched his way through the altar of Parañaque Cathedral amid the parishioners waving their palaspas (palm branches).
The song’s lyrics read, “Hosanna to the Son of David, the King of Israel/ Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord/ Hosanna in the highest.”
This day also marked Passion Sunday, which the Church prior to the reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), celebrated two Sundays before Easter. The Church has since combined these two “Sundays” in order to reinforce the solemnity of Holy Week. (Raymond A. Sebastián)