Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.
It is the first Sunday that children will not wave their palm leaves in the air enacting how Jesus rode on a donkey and was welcomed into Jerusalem.
So instead, Catholics in the Cook Islands will display the palm leaves on their doorways.
Catholic Bishop Paul Donoghue.Bishop Donoghue said when Jesus made his staged entry into Jerusalem, it turned into a royal entry and the grassroots people laid their cloaks on the ground, waved branches and shouted “Hosanna”, which means “save us”.
This is a reference to Zechariah 9:9 which foretold the coming of a king proclaiming peace. If Jesus had have wanted to come as a warrior king he would have chosen a horse, an animal which were trained for war. The religious leaders who have been looking for an excuse to kill Jesus would have read this entry into Jerusalem as a deliberate challenge to their authority – a provocative act.Jesus was not born in a blaze of publicity, though. but in obscurity. He did not rub shoulders with the rich and famous, but with the poor and rejected; he was not crowned not with gold and precious stones, but with thorns.
He was not lifted up on a throne, but on the cross of suffering and shame, humiliation and execution.
So Bishop Donoghue encourages Christians to ask themselves on Palm Sunday, who do they identify with on this day? Whether with the leaders looking for an excuse to reject Jesus? With the grassroots people looking for an earthly leader?
Or do we clearly see Jesus as a spiritual king, coming to establish the kingdom of God?
“Since the closure of our churches in the Cook Islands our people have been encouraged to pray in their families as often as they wish. I am aware other churches have had the same approach.”
Emails and text messages had been helpful, Donoghue said, and he had been able to assist people through a live-streamed service on Facebook.
People has been watching on their computers or phones, he said.
Last Sunday he distributed a service which could be prayed in the family and any one could lead it. It could be prayed alone or with other members of the family.
And they hoped to both stream and televise the Last Supper service on Thursday, the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
Bishop Donoghue said they were not expecting churches to close, but now people find themselves gathering in their families and able to pray together.
“Covid-19 has given our people the opportunity to be missionaries. I will be very interested to see where this ends up. I hope what is happening in families will give our people confidence to be in mission.”