Our parish’s major celebration of Palm Sunday is in Dulce Nombre de Copán, though many communities celebrate it in their villages. But the pastor usually only makes it to Dulce Nombre and one other municipal center for the procession and Mass.
This year Padre German started the celebration reading paragraph 20 and part of paragraph 22 of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato ‘Si:
Some forms of pollution are part of people’s daily experience. Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths. People take sick, for example, from breathing high levels of smoke from fuels used in cooking or heating. There is also pollution that affects everyone, caused by transport, industrial fumes, substances which contribute to the acidification of soil and water, fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and agrotoxins in general. Technology, which, linked to business interests, is presented as the only way of solving these problems, in fact proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others….A fitting reminder of the ecological devastation experienced here and around the globe.
These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish.
After Padre German blessed the palms (with lots of water), I read the Gospel and Padre German gave a short homily. What struck me was his remarks on how Jesus entered Jerusalem not on a high horse, but on a borrowed donkey. The donkey was (and is) the beast of burden of the poor. But Jesus didn’t even have his own donkey; he had to borrow one.
The importance of seeing life from the eyes of the poor as Jesus did is very much central to our understanding of Jesus as a God who humbled himself – or, as the Spanish puts it, made himself nothing (se anonadó), something I noted in my brief homily after the Passion.
We proceeded to the parish walking about a kilometer, singing and waving palms.
I carried the Book of the Gospels, in the midst of twelve young people clad in white, as is the custom here.
The church was filled for Mass.
But one of the most interesting aspects of the Mass was the presence of a man who appeared to be either mentally unbalanced or drunk. He was near the altar during most of the Mass until my homily – when Padre German had him sit down in one of the chairs in the sanctuary. He stayed there until the Lord’s Prayer. Another reminder of the closeness of Christ to the poor, the marginalized, the ill in mind and body.
The call to reach out was also evident in what happened after Mass. Today we sent out about fifty parishioners who will visit homes in various villages in the parish – a follow up to our October mission. I will try to visit some of the ill and homebound a few days this week as well as prepare myself for possibly singing the Easter Proclamation at the Easter Vigil.
More photos of Pal Sunday and Holy Week in the Dulce Nombre de María parish in 2017 can be found in this album on my Flickr site: