Palm Sunday: Living our Faith

March 24, 2024 | Carol Zimmermann | Today’s Readings

“Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:10)

The Biblical account of Palm Sunday, when Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowds go wild, is a pretty dramatic moment.

Right then and there in the city streets, it seemed as if it suddenly dawned on people that Jesus, who had performed countless miracles in their midst and spoke frequently about faith, discipleship, and eternal life, was in fact who he said he was — the Messiah.

Reading this account today, it’s tempting to wonder what happened to them — how they went from praising Jesus as a king on Sunday to shouting, “Crucify him!” on Good Friday.

The question of how to hold onto that Palm Sunday exuberance when the going gets tough has been a challenge for people of faith from that time until now.

In my years as a Catholic News Service reporter, I wrote about many people whose faith meant more to them than just spoken words or Sunday observances, but something that made an impact on their own lives and the lives of others. It’s why they help those in need, advocate for justice, or quietly pray behind monastery walls or in an adoration chapel in the middle of the night.

Vicki and Syl Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was murdered in 1998, are clear examples of people living by faith amid a tremendous challenge. I heard them speak two years ago when they received the “Reimagining Justice Award” from Catholic Mobilizing Network, and their words have stuck with me.

Syl said he and his wife, who chose not to seek the death penalty for their daughter’s killer, relied on their faith to sustain them and came to really understand the words from the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive those who trespass against us.”

“We both realized that if we could not stand by our principles when it was difficult, then they were simply not our principles,” he said.

For this couple, the words they said in a prayer could have just been something they said out of habit, or in the moment like the Palm Sunday crowd; but instead, they became a powerful force that they staked their lives on.

These words changed them, giving them strength and grace. They also made these parents an example to others of what it really means to live by faith, not just in the moment, but every day.