Every year it’s the same. We come to Mass the same as we do the other 51 weeks of the year, sit in our regular spots, or close to them, and wait for Mass to begin. Then the Priest or Deacon comes out and asks us to move outside the church so we can begin with a procession of palms. It seems that Mother Church is going out of her way to dramatize the moment, but it’s not a dramatization. It is a remembering and representation of the beginning of this holiest week of the year. Chapter 12 of the book of Exodus can help us better appreciate this week.
When God spoke to Moses about the final plague that freed them from Egypt, He gave specific instructions. Procure the lamb on the 10th day of the month and eat it on the 14th day. The instructions included HOW they were to eat it, HOW they were to dress and many other details. God also told Moses that they were to celebrate/remember this event every year.
Jesus celebrated this Passover feast every year with the rest of the Jewish nation. It was, and still is, their holiest event of the year just as it is for us. On Holy Thursday we celebrate the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist (This is My Body; This is My Blood) as well as the Priesthood (Do this in remembrance of Me). The connection we need to make is that He was celebrating the annual Passover with the Apostles but, knowing that His “hour” was at hand, He made it more meaningful and efficacious for each of us. He was not only the celebrant but also the victim, the Lamb.
Remembering chapter 12 of Exodus, this feast was to be celebrated annually on the 14th day of the first month. The Last Supper, Jesus’ final Passover, happened on a Thursday, but it was the 10th day of that month when they were to procure their sacrificial lamb. Now, count backwards from Thursday, the 14th day, and the 10th day is Palm Sunday—when we procure our Lamb of God for our perpetual Eucharist.