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Palm Sunday: The Significance, Facts, Lessons for Nigeria

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By Emmanuel Gandu

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem.

As he rode into the city on a donkey, his followers spread palm branches at his feet on the pathway with songs of “Hosanna” as they joyfully waved the palm branches in the air to announce the arrival of their king who will save them from the ruling Roman empire tyranny.

Palm Sunday Facts

(1) Palm Sunday is a major feast in the liturgical calendar that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and is joyfully celebrated in prayers, songs, and dancing procession with Palm fronts spread on the road as Jesus rides triumphantly on a donkey into the town.

(2) Palm Sunday is also called The Lord’s Passion Sunday as the gospel would signify.

(3) Palm Sunday is the last Sunday in the Lenten season. It signifies the beginning and marks the first day of Holy Week in the Catholic Church.

(4) Holy Week is those days leading up to Easter and is loaded with solemn activities of the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday before Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

(5) Palm Sunday falls on the Sunday before Easter Sunday.

(6) Palm Sunday is the only Sunday where two separate gospels are read in the Catholic Church.

(7) Passion is the longest gospel of the year in the Catholic liturgy.

(8) The main characters and center of the action are Jesus, the Donkey, Jesus’ followers, Palm branches, and Hosanna songs, all representing freedom and emancipation, the best of goodness, and victory.

Significance of Palm Branches

1. Palm branches symbolize conquest and victory, triumph, joy, peace, honour, and respect for royalty.

This is a celebration by the people of Christ’s selfless Leadership as opposed to the tyrannical rule of the Roman leaders.

2. Palm branches represent goodness, well-being, grandeur, steadfastness, and actualization.

3. Kings, conquerors, and visiting dignitaries were welcomed with waving Palm branches by joyful dancing citizens reminiscent of the present-day “red carpet reception” and presentation of bucquay of flowers.

5. Even today, agitations and demonstrations by pressure groups hold palm branches as signs of struggle symbols for solidarity, conquest, and victory.

5. Sporting victories are celebrated with fans waving palm branches as signs of victory and success.

Where in the bible are palm branches mentioned?

1. John 12: 12 – 15 “They took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”

2. Matthew 21:1 – 11

3. Mark 11:1 – 11

4. Luke 19:28 – 44

5. Revelation 7:9

6. Leviticus 23: 40

7. 1Kings 6:29

8 Nehemiah 8:15

Why and what is the meaning of “Hosanna”

Hosanna is a liturgical invocation that was chanted by the crowds as Jesus made his triumphant entry to Jerusalem.

Hosanna means “Please Save Us.”

It is a Greek word based on two Hebrew words – “Yasha” and “anna.”

“Yasha” means “save” or “deliver,” while “Anna” means “please I beseech.”

(a) In Mark 11:9, the people say “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”

(b) The people were quoting Psalm 118:25 – 26 as they say – “Save us as we pray, O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”

Lessons for Nigeria

(a) Leadership Failure

Fellow Nigerians, May we be reminded that Palm Sunday is the highest show of love of a people to their servant leader as a mark of reverence.

Palm Sunday speaks of God’s ultimate plan of sending His Son to fight our battles – battles that have overwhelmed the reluctant Nigerian leadership.

Battles especially as Nigeria faces her greatest challenges ever experienced since independence.

(b) Political and Socio-economic Lessons

My fellow compatriots, the Challenges of economic mismanagement, massive debts celebrated by the government rising and incredible penchant for foreign borrowing, Mass killings, abduction and kidnapping, foreign/internal terrorist invasion, hunger and deprivation, unemployment, falling standard of education and University closure,  workers strikes, massive corruption, the collapse of manufacturing/industrial flight from Nigeria, Nepotistic and insensitive leadership, and all kinds of divisive tendencies have put a knife on the things that held us together and we’ve fallen apart.

Nigeria is on the brink as we are in a dire need of servant leadership like Jesus.

May the celebration of this year’s Palm Sunday bring with it those cherished ideals of justice, peace, equity, and servant leadership that have eluded Nigeria from successive military and civilian administrations.

Above all, may this year’s Palm Sunday be a soothing balm for all our traumatized citizenry.

May God bless and save Nigeria

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