It has been different from last year, as the dear Jerusalemites--the good parishioners--have celebrated the Holy Week on foot in preparation for Easter celebrations.
Last year, the streets of Jerusalem were overwhelmed with sadness due to the pandemic which led to a long-term lockdown as it coincided with the Feast of Easter. Nowadays, life is bustling with activities after people have been vaccinated against the pandemic. People were able to perform the Palm Sunday rites. Consequently, the Jerusalemites and the inhabitants of the Holy City went out following the model of Lord Jesus who had entered Jerusalem, as they carried palms and olive branches while wearing their masks to perform the procession from Bethphage on Mount of Olives to Lions' Gate near St. Anne Church in the Old City.
Those who contemplate Palm Sunday events should feel proud of this sublime ecclesiastical pluralism as Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who has been living in Jerusalem for more than 20 years, presided over the ceremonial procession for the first time in his capacity as the named patriarch of the Holy City since December 2020. Present were Franciscan priests of different nationalities, priests, seminary students of the Latin patriarchate and the youth of various functionaries foremost of whom were Jerusalem scouts who played melodies dear to the heart. Of course, the Jerusalemite families are to be mentioned. It was not possible for them to attend the event due to security complications or due to undertaking precautionary measures designed to curtail the spread of the Corona pandemic. As far as I know, the residents of Jerusalem received two doses of the vaccine, while the residents of Palestinian cities are still waiting for their turn, and this has created a new racial discrimination. Clerical families of different nationalities also came to Jerusalem to provide spiritual, cultural and medical services.
In this context, what draws attention are two addresses. The first one is by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa who said at the conclusion of the Palm Sunday procession in the historical streets of Jerusalem,"We, the Church of Jerusalem, love this city, in which the roots of our Christian identity lie. She represents for each of us the desire for universal reconciliation and peace that God desires for the whole human family. And for this, we want to pray and work, so that this desire and this prophecy can come true. The wounds and divisions that unfortunately still characterize the life of this city of ours must not discourage us. On the contrary, they must push us with ever greater determination to bear witness to the faith in Christ' victory over death, to be, as Church, a sign of unity and reconciliation."
The second address is by Palestinian youth Rafi Ghattas, the secretary general of the Christian Youth in Palestine, who said: “We follow in the footsteps of Lord Jesus Christ by walking in the same roads He took, and smell His fragrance in our dear country. Let us always remember that we are the true guardians of this city! Let us raise high the branches of olive trees that remind us of our firm roots in this land."
"In conclusion, the heart is heavy due to the fact that the Feasts of Easter are far apart based on the two calendars as if the social distancing has impacted them. It is a period of one whole month between the Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar. We plead with God to inspire minds with wisdom and hearts with love so as to pursue the sound path leading to the attainment of unity in toto.