Palms. We are told they were used to line the path for the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem. His was a parade of peace. He did not enter the city as a military conqueror, though that is what some people would have liked. Jesus entered Jerusalem as the embodiment of peace, of hope, of reconciliation, of a new future. And not only a new future, but a different future. A future in which the oppressed do not apply the tactics of the oppressor to reverse the situation. Jesus comes into Jerusalem as a symbol of a reality in which violence, harm, and pain are not used as weapons against others. Jesus is leading the way to a reality in which the innate dignity of every person is honored and the creation itself is revered as the self-disclosure of God.
The palm tree is quite unique. It provides food through the nuts and date. Oil can be made from the palm. The fronds can be used for making baskets and for roofing and other practical applications. The trunk and the crown are home to countless insects, birds, and other flora and fauna.
Then there is the symbolic nature of the palm tree. It is associated with tropical warmth, the beach, vacation. Can you remember driving south on I-95 from the frozen north, eagerly seeing that first palm tree by the side of the highway in South Carolina? With global climate change, maybe they are in North Carolina now. But the palm tree is a symbol of tropical paradise especially for those from temperate climes.
So we see that the palm is really a very fitting symbol for the new reality that Jesus is pointing us to: a reality of peace, lived in harmony with one another and with nature. Paradise.
May we keep focused on the kind of community and world that Jesus shows to us. May we be disciplined and keep ourselves from the allure a self-centered, greedy, violent society. May the palms around us remind us of Paradise and peace. Amen.