Say to daughter Zion,
See, your king comes to you,
Gentle and riding on a donkey,
On a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea.”
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. In the Eastern tradition, a donkey symbolizes an animal of peace, unlike a horse, which is the animal of war.
Jesus came as the “Prince of Peace” on Palm Sunday, not a war-waging king.
The people of his day misunderstood the symbolism, and the joyful acclamations of Palm Sunday turned to angry condemnations the next day.
When my grandmother came to the United States from Italy, she brought her family’s customs and traditions, which she shared with us.
On Palm Sunday in Italy, parishioners receive olive branches, not palms. Palm trees are less common than olive trees in Italy.
Olive branches in my family took on a greater significance and a different meaning than the traditional palms of Palm Sunday.
Blessed olive branches, my grandmother taught me, are symbols of peace when shared with others on Palm Sunday.
As a child, I sometimes accompanied her as she made her Palm Sunday rounds, sharing the sacramental olive branches with special people she knew: a dear family member, a close friend, a sick person, someone struggling with a personal problem, someone in need of reconciliation.
All she called on welcomed her with her special gift. Through this simple ritual, I learned the value of sharing Jesus’ gift of peace with others.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus invites us to follow his example, to be peacemakers.
In our world steeped in violence, fear, injustice, and pain, with whom will you, share your olive branch of peace today?
Rituals and traditions are rich in symbolism and give meaning to family activities and holidays.
Does your family have any special Lenten or Holy Week traditions or rituals?