SCRANTON – The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, began Holy Week by serving as principal celebrant and homilist at a Pontifical Mass of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on April 10.
Hundreds of people attended the service, which was broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton.
“How very much we need this Holy Week to help us face the struggles, the pain, the disappointment, the fear and the anxieties engulfing our lives and our world these days and to take them to the only place where they can be transformed into hope,” Bishop Bambera said. “That place, brothers and sisters, is at the foot of the Cross of Jesus.”
Noting the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic for the last two years as well as the most recent War in Ukraine, the bishop said, “Our world and our lives just can’t seem to catch a break.”
Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, is when the Church remembers Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem. It is the beginning of Holy Week, the most solemn week in the Church’s liturgical year.
“Our willingness to humbly turn to Jesus as the only source of our true and lasting hope has the power to open our lives to the mystery of God’s saving grace and his promise of life and peace,” the bishop added.
For the first time since 2019, the Pontifical Mass for Palm Sunday began in the Cathedral Prayer Garden on Wyoming Avenue. It was followed by a solemn procession to the Cathedral Church.
Inside, the faithful heard the Passion from the Gospel of Luke – a version that Bishop Bambera said explains the extraordinary compassionate and loving nature of Jesus.
“Only in Saint Luke’s Gospel does Jesus heal the severed ear of the high priest’s servant. Only in Luke, struggling under the weight of the Cross, does Jesus stop to console the women of Jerusalem who grieve for themselves and their children and only in Luke’s Passion story do we hear Jesus pray for his executioners and promise paradise to the penitent thief crucified with him,” the bishop said.
Because Jesus is both compassionate and merciful, the bishop encouraged all people to draw closer to Him this Holy Week.
“Jesus is found with all who suffer for he knows the paths they- and we – trod because he made them his own,” he said.