By Sam Eyoboka
THIS yearâ€™s Lent – a period in the Christian calendar preceding Easter, when Christian faithful are expected to fast and pray for 40 days – which began about 32 days ago will enter its last week this Sunday with the celebration of Palm Sunday.
The symbolic ceremony which begins the Passion Week, re-enacts the experiences of the progenitor of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ which marks the symbolic as gaily dressed Christians strew palm fronts on the road for Christ to ride a donkey through.
Enumerating the importance of the day, the Social Communications Director of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Osu, quoting several Bible passages to support his argument, said it is day the Church re-enacts Christâ€™s entrance into Jerusalem to accom-plish His paschal mystery.
Jesusâ€™s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, he said, was recorded in the four gospels, quoting Matthew as saying: â€œ…A large crowd of people spread their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from the palm trees and spread them on the road. The crowds walking in front of Jesus and those walking behind began to shout: â€˜Praise to Davidâ€™s son. God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise be to God!â€™â€
The Palm Tree grows to a height of about 18 to 30 metres and has long feathery leaves. These branches were about two to three metres long and grow from the top of the trunk. Also called the date palm, this tree lives to be 100 to 200 years old.
According to Osu, palm branches were considered a symbol of victory, stressing that many places in the Bible were identified by the abundance of palm trees. â€œOne of the Hebrew words for palm, tamar, was often used as a womanâ€™s name,â€ he added. Continuing he said: â€œThe faithful carry palm branches on this day. Palm branches were used for making huts at the Feast of Booths and served as models for decorative ornaments in the temple. The use of palm branches is a symbol of triumph.â€