In Betfage, on the eve of Palm Sunday

“Hosanna to the Son of David,” sang the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land on the eve of Palm Sunday. They processed into the small church of Betfage on March 24. This is the exact place where Jesus entered Jerusalem and was greeted by a festive crowd, and for this reason, the Franciscans lead a pilgrimage there on the day before Palm Sunday.

With the participation of local Christians, friars and pilgrims, mass was celebrated, preceded by the singing of the Psalms at Morning Prayer. The Gospel that was read was that of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and then, once again, Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco said the homily, as he has done at all of the other pilgrimages this Lent. The priest decided to highlight a character that normally seems insignificant in the biblical episode, the donkey. “There is this donkey that does not draw attention to itself, but who carries Jesus on its shoulders,” he said. “Behind this animal, there is a wisdom that comes from this part of the world: it is slow and eats very little; it is dedicated to its work; and it is stubborn and docile. I believe this is the image of a church that we all should emulate: hard-working, tenacious.” By not attracting attention to ourselves or being self-centered, we must carry Christ on our shoulders, [and] point to him with our lives.

Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco then said that “when he enters Jerusalem, Jesus is like the new Isaac, who is being sacrificed by the Father” and by giving his son to us, God is making the greatest sacrifice that can be made.

“Let us enter this Holy Week, reflecting on what kind of Church we are, and asking ourselves if we are able to carry Jesus Christ on our shoulders, if we are able to point to him, and if our path is credible, if we are able to focus on what matters,” said Fr. Epicoco. “We ask the Lord to prepare us for Holy Week by asking to be the donkey that carries Jesus on its shoulders”

Beatrice Guarrera

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