“Now the Passover of the Jews was near.” As Christians prepare for Palm Sunday and Holy Week, followers of the Jewish faith tradition prepare for the beginning of Passover at sundown on Saturday, March 27. There are many traditions that led to the Jewish use of unleavened bread, or matzah, during this feast. One of the most interesting is the usage of the Hebrew term “the bread of poverty” for matzah. This hard, flat bread is said to remind Jews of what it was like to be poor captives in Egypt and to promote humility and a greater appreciation of the gift of freedom. Food for thought for one and all—and for gratitude!

The first day of Holy Week is Passion Sunday. Its more popular title, Palm Sunday, evokes the waving of branches and singing of Hosannas. The branches in our hands today place us squarely in the crowd. And crowds can have power. A crowd is also a place in which one might get lost, become faceless, just another palm waver. Jesus is always singling you out, and his relationship with you is unique and deep. You are someone whom he has taught, healed, forgiven, touched, and been touched by. Walk the whole walk with him this week. Do not be like those who today cry Hosanna and tomorrow Crucify him! Keep your eyes locked on his as he reveals again the depth of his passion for you. And do so with a spirit of humility and gratitude, just as did our Jewish ancestors in faith!

Fr. John Mahoney