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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Diocese of Sandakan Celebrates Palm Sunday, Ushers in Solemn Holy Week

Article by DS / dll and rrs
Sandakan : Bishop Julius celebrated Palm Sunday at St Mary's Cathedral Saturday, 28th March 2015 with more than 700 parishioners in attendance. The celebration commenced at the open space in front of the Parish Hall with the Blessing of the Palm leaves. He then sprinkled the leaves with holy water. 

The Bishop invited the faithful to commemorate the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, with faith and devotion, following His footstep and that by His grace we may have salvation, a share in His resurrection.

The prelate said, 'Let us commemorate the event with our heart open and receptive of His love, which usher us into Holy Week. Let us pray that our faith will never fail even in the face of challenges and problem in our life.' The parishioners holding the palm leaves then entered the Cathedral in a procession.
In his homily, he began by citing Isaiah 53 : 7, 'He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth.'
It calls for reflection, seeing how it applies to God's only beloved son and how he died for all of us. In the words of St. Peter, 'without having seen Him you have come to believe in Him. You are already filled with the joy so glorious that words could not describe.'
We are called to deeply appreciate his suffering, out of love for us, through the narration of the passion. It reminds us that Christ was no stranger to hardship and sufferings. Despite His compassion for the people, He met with indifference, hatred and rejection. 
Palm Sunday Celebration in BM, presided by Fr Sunny Chung at St Mary's Cathedral, Sandakan on Sunday 29th March 2015
Jesus was deeply grieved. He was deeply troubled waiting for His death in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing that one of His own is going to betray Him and his disciples will desert Him. And even Peter swore that he has never met Him. But most terrible of all was His spirit of being abandoned by God.
His inner spirit was surrounded in darkness as His end draws near. He says in a loud voice, 'My God, My God why have you forsaken Me.' His bodily feature was so disfigured, His feet and hands nailed to the Cross and His side pierced with a lance; the sight of the Eternal God, Jesus.
Palm Sunday celebrated by Fr Phillip Muji at Holy Trinity Church, Tawau
The question we are asking is,'why such suffering.' We can only say with Isaiah, 'For our sins He was brought low. On Him lay a punishment that brings a spirit that saves us. May the Lord grant that Jesus' death be not in vain.'
Palm Sunday at St Dominic's Church, Lahad Datu with Fr Simon Kontou as the main celebrant
Fr Jasery, celebrating Palm Sunday at St Martin's Church, Telupid.
When we look upon the passion and death of Jesus with eyes of faith and love, we see the divine love that is stronger than sin, divine light that shines in all our darkness, divine power that brings new life over our own death, the divine poverty that enriches us. 
Let us enter that journey. We are to listen deeply to all that is taking place so as to recognize the Good Shepherd who lay down His life for us all, that we might have life and life to the full.

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