Nagaland celebrates Palm Sunday with religious fervour
Kohima/Dimapur, March 28 (EMN): Along with the rest of the world, Nagaland celebrated Palm Sunday with religious fervour symbolising the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem as told in the Bible.
To mark the occasion, St. Francis de Sales (SFS) parish celebrated Eucharist on the occasion of Palm Sunday at Kohima town.
“Palm Sunday is the revival of the church to keep on moving till the end without losing our faith,” said Rev. Fr. G Lawrence Khing, who is also the director of Nagaland Catholic Youth Movement (NCYM), while delivering a sermon as the main celebrant during an Angami mass.
He narrated how Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem despite knowing the “harsh realities” of life in the city “with courage and faith,” adding that Christ began his journey with the will to restore the situation in Jerusalem through His “passion, death and resurrection”.
Khing said Jerusalem was a place which did not sound very pleasing to the ears as the olden day’s “injustice was so common” while “many unwanted social and religious activities” were prevalent in the city and that the poor class of people were “socially, politically and even religiously neglected”.
He reminded that on Palm Sunday, Christ entered Israel’s city where ‘many killings, riots and uprising were taking place, while many false prophets were proclaiming themselves to be the messiah’.
Khing has likened Jerusalem as a representation to each where one indulges in wrong ways of life, mistreatment of others or ill-thoughts against one another.
He narrated how a worst sinner could become a new person or new creation when Christ enters his/her hearts the way he changed the ‘whole settings of Jerusalem in favour of God.’
“The new Jerusalem is kept ready only for those people who are ready to wash their sins,” he said.
Referring to the first reading during the mass, which was taken from the book of Isaiah, the celebrant reminded the congregation to live their lives faithfully and make use of all their human sense organs to favour God.
The priest also urged the believers not to let “pain and suffering” discourage their faith life by citing examples on how prophets gave up their lives for God instead of dying a simple death.
“To be good, holy and sincere in life, we need to cross so many portions of life,’ he reminded, adding “Whatever you do, do it for God”.
He also reminded that as Christians, one must please God by loving their enemies as well besides their close ones. “If you can love your enemies, there is real change in you,” he said, adding that they should also forgive whoever sin against them.
Sharing about how hatred, envy and jealousy exists even among the Christians, Khing said, “Instead of giving birth to God, we are giving birth to the newest sin”. He shared how people went to the extent of killing one another when there was too much hatred and jealousy.
Khing also made a reference to the second reading, while reminding the faithful not to take pride in anything “except in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ”.
Describing Christ to be “too humble,” who went even to the extent of giving up his life, he said Christ possessed two things in life — self knowledge and knowledge of God — which was enough to attain God’s favour.
He said having self knowledge would remind a person about one’s responsibility and duty and knowledge of God about whom one need to worship and whom not to worship. He also cautioned that failure to know oneself will lead to “ignorance and rudeness in life” while failure to know God will lead one to pride and arrogance”.
He mentioned that there are those who can destroy men and women and their future generation for “greed and fame,” while sharing about how Judas became famous because of his evil deeds against Christ and His disciples. He, however, stated that “good people” cannot be destroyed adding that such people multiply. He also mentioned examples on how the disciples brought thousands of followers to Christ even after His death.
“This season, let us put to death all that is devil in us,” he said, reminding the devotees to keep their faith-life by “moving ahead” and further prayed that the Eucharist might lead them to “courageous living” as Christians.
The sermon was translated into Tenyidie by Abiü Clara, while the narrative of the Passion was led by Keduodenuo Angela and “Prayer of the Faithful” by Rovi Martha.
Dziesesatuo Victor and Vizohenuo Victoria read the scriptures, while Vikuosielie James led the service and Vilasalie James, senior catechist of SFS, conducted the morning prayer.
Earlier, two different English masses were also celebrated by Rev. Fr. Richard Fernandes, parish priest of SFS, and Rev. Fr. Gabriel Gaikhang, assistant priest.
To commemorate Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, faithful from Mary Help of Christians Cathedral also organised a procession carrying palm leaves to the church from PHQ junction after which a Eucharist was celebrated by the bishop of Kohima diocese Rev. Dr. James Thoppil.
In a similar programme, St Francis Xavier Catholic Church under the Kohima diocese celebrated Palm Sunday by organising a procession from Thokhwezu village view to the church with its parish priest, Rev. Fr. Siby John, as the main celebrant.
In his homily, Fr. John asked the faithful to be patient with Christ in the time of humiliation and enrich their lives with Jesus forever.
Zunheboto Town Sumi Baptist Church (ZTSBC) also celebrated Palm Sunday on the theme “The day the King came to town” at the church devotional hall.
The programme began with a song and prayer and special offertory prayer said by its pastor Rev. Dr. Daniel Chishi, while Inito Y Chishi read the scripture from the book of Luke 19; 36-38.
Anatoli Aye, women leader, delivered the Palm Sunday message during the programme wherein she described three kinds of people to welcome the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem.
According to her, the first kind were those who welcomed Christ only from their outer appearance but not from their heart, while the second were those who never understood Christ properly and the third were those people who welcomed him happily but turned to be the opposite on Good Friday.
She stated that Christ did not come as a great ruler or warrior who wanted to rule upon others but as a peace maker to bless and spread love and set free from all pains and sorrows. She exhorted the mass not to refuse Christ but accept Him.
Song was presented by the ZTSBC youth choir led by Kughalu Chishi, home evangelist. The programme was chaired by Xuheto Awomi.
MGOS Church, Midland, Dimapur, and Kerala Christian Church, Kohima, also celebrated Palm Sunday.