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PALM SUNDAY ICON STUDY

The entry of Christ into Jerusalem is a celebration of triumph. This is the way the Gospel presents the event. Our Church brings us to this moment of glory. Coming at the close of Great Lent, the celebration of the Feast gives a foretaste of paschal joy.

According to the Gospel of St. John (12:1-18) the public celebration which accompanied the entry into Jerusalem was not only on account of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead. The people took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it. The Disciples followed Him and the welcoming crowd met theme at the Jerusalem Gate. In the icon, our focus of attention is on the portrait of Christ, seated sideways on the donkey, His head turned toward the Disciples following Him, and His right hand raised in blessing.

Traditionally, children play a prominent role in the representation of the Entry into Jerusalem. Some are depicted: one, high in a trees, cutting the palm branches; another spreading his cloak along Christ's way. Though the Gospels do not specify the children’s presence, the Church sees in them the very embodiment of the Biblical reference: “Out of the of babes and sucklings you have fashioned praise.” (Psalm 8:3). Related to this is the call of the Palm Sunday Vespers: 'Wherefore, like babes, rejoice, carrying branches in our hands, and praise Him singing, 'Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He Who comes, the King of Israel."

The Icon of the Entry portrays the journey of Christ to His voluntary passion and death. At the same time, it gives us an image of His installation in the Kingdom of His glory, the Kingdom of the New Jerusalem, which in terms of the Resurrection Matins, shines in the glory of the Lord.

In the Ukrainian Catholic Church, on Palm or Flowery Sunday, this triumphal entry into Jerusalem is celebrated. In Ukraine, obtaining palms for these services was difficult and expensive. In the place of palms, pussy willow branches, which early in spring showed signs of life and of course an appropriate symbolism, were blessed at the liturgical services and distributed to the faithful, a tradition that continues in our churches to this day.

 (God With Us Icon Study)

 


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