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A Pastoral message for Palm Sunday 2024.

21 March 2024                                                                                           

St James of Catania



A Pastoral Message for the Commemoration of the Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem,

Palm Sunday, 2024.


My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Peace be with you.


"Let us all come together cheerfully; let us all receive him gladly and hold our feast with all sincerity. Instead of our garments, let us strew our hearts before Him, in psalms and hymns, let us raise to him our shouts of thanksgiving; and, without ceasing, let us exclaim, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’" (St Methodius of Olympus, died c. 311)


Yesterday, we commemorated the raising of Lazarus at Bethany. The longstanding tradition of the apostolic churches situates this event on the day before Palm Sunday, hence the common descriptor for yesterday “Lazarus Saturday”.

In the early Church, Lazarus Saturday was much favoured for the baptism of adult catechumens. You will notice that the Trisagion of the Liturgy, “Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One” is replaced yesterday with “All of you who have been baptised into Christ, etc.”

The week following the Sunday of Mary of Egypt, this year 17 March, is often called Palm Week because the days of this week lead us to Palm Sunday. During this week, the services contain numerous references to Lazarus and the event at Bethany, culminating in yesterday’s celebration of Lazarus Saturday. It is with Friday evening, the eve of Lazarus Saturday, that the Great and Holy Lent is concluded. The Great and Holy Week has its own strict fasting practices.

While we tend to think of the Fast in terms of the kitchen and the dining room, Holy Week is a most appropriate time to limit the distractions of electronic devices, along with unnecessary visiting and socialising.   

The triumphant entry of our Lord into Jerusalem is recorded in each of the four canonical gospels; and we might note that the commemoration of this event, complete with procession, was amongst the earliest liturgical re-enactments. We have an account of Palm Sunday celebrations from the 4th century.


We are gathered to welcome Jesus into his City and into our hearts, and each of us is called to be an active participant in this celebration. We are not simply remembering something that occurred in the distant past, as we might on a national Remembrance Day.

Today, the sacred action of the Holy Liturgy with its accompanying procession, lifts us, as it were, and carries us to the Holy City to that first Palm Sunday almost two thousand years ago. Close your eyes and listen to the hymns of the Feast. Where are we? We are there!

However, keep in mind that this triumphant day is but the beginning of the Great and Holy Week. It is good and most commendable to bring the children to the Palm Sunday, Holy Liturgy but remember to bring them as often as possible to the remaining services of this Great and Holy Week.

And today, on this blessed Palm Sunday, I would urge everyone to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem and for the consolation of all those who love the Holy City.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, you who are parents or who are otherwise involved in the upbringing of children, it is not easy. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult times in history to be a parent. However, keep always before you the words of Sacred Scripture, “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

St John Chrysostom was never one for mincing his words. As we stand at the door of another Great and Holy Week, consider his advice, “Let everything take second place to our care of our children, our bringing them up to the discipline and instruction of the Lord. If from the beginning we teach them to love true wisdom, they will have greater wealth and glory than riches can provide.”

Concerning our growth in the spiritual life, child to adult, Tertullian of Carthage (3rd century) made a truly succinct observation, “A man becomes a Christian with sound teaching; he is not born one.”

Holy Week is indeed a good time to teach our children the love of wisdom, and that wisdom is to be best found at the Holy Services in your parish church.

May this Great and Holy Week be for each of you a time of many blessings, and may it be a time of much wisdom.

With my paternal blessing and with prayers assured,


 Robert Rabbat

Bishop of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand and All Oceania

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