Today the church celebrates Palm Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy Week. This is a well-known church feast, and one many people look forward to. But this year, the calendar works out so that today the church also celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation, marking the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, and the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life. This may be a lesser-known feast to some, but there are some parallels between Palm Sunday and Annunciation Day that make me enjoy the felicitous calendar dates this year.
- Both days are marked by exclamations. On Palm Sunday we hear the joyful shouts of the crowd: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” On Annunciation Day, we hear a different exclamation, when the angel appears to Mary and says: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
- Both mark the start of something big. Palm Sunday begins the most somber week of the church year, the week where Jesus begins His final journey to the cross. Annunciation Day begins Jesus life on the earth with His conception. Both ultimately point to the same thing: Jesus’ triumph over sin and death, and the eternal life He won for us!
- Both focus on Jesus as a son. On Palm Sunday, we hear the people calling for the “Son of the David”…not the direct son of the great king, but a descendant in David’s line, the one the people were hoping would come with might and majesty to rescue them and claim the throne of His ancestor. On Annunciation Day, we hear Gabriel tell Mary that she will give birth a son, who will be not only a man, but also the Son of the Most High, God in the flesh!
I’ve always felt that there’s something especially Advent-y about Palm Sunday. This year, however, we get an even bigger glimpse of Adventide even as Lent winds down, as we hear the great announcement of Gabriel to Mary. The baby king in the crude manger is the same humble king who rode into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey.
Hosanna! Gloria! Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!