As Christians marked Palm Sunday, yesterday, they were urged to emulate values of endurance, humility, true love and forgiveness, which characterised Jesus Christ despite physical and moral torture he faced in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago.
Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent, commemorating the triumphant entry of Christ in Jerusalem, days before his crucifixion.
According to the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a young donkey, and was welcomed by people who threw clothes and palms in front of Him as a sign of homage.
Palm leaves are a widely recognised symbol of peace and victory, according to tradition while a donkey represents the humble arrival of someone in peace.
The commemoration of torture, endurance of and eventually Christ’s death on the cross coincides with the commemoration of 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
Christians said the torture Genocide victims underwent reflects that against Christ.
At Saint Michel Cathedral in Kigali, hundreds of Christians carried palm leaves that they waved as a symbol of Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem.
Fr Ildephonse Kanyamihigo urged Christians to use Jesus’ endurance and resurrection from death to restore hope to victims of torture.
“We must learn what to do in order to save those in trouble,” he preached.
If we look at the gospel about Jesus’ life, he said, we still observe people filled with hatred, who betray innocent people, those who take bad decisions.
“We still see people who lack bravery to save those in trouble. We still see citizens who wish death for their neighbours. This is torture that requires endurance as that of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Fr Kanyamihigo said that people should endure painful situations since it can change later.
Christ’s endurance, hope for Genocide victims
The gospel message, according to various Christians, is a way of restoring hope, fostering forgiveness, reconciliation and peace among Rwandans as the nation mourns.
Various Christians who spoke to The New Times said the torture, mockery, and denial that Christ faced were characteristic of 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
Jesus’ endurance, forgiveness and resurrection is great news of hope to Genocide victims and survivors that should be sustained, they said.
“Jesus was tortured on the cross but when He resurrected from death, it was light for the world, He died to redeem people from sins. I hope it will be an eternal celebration when we meet Genocide victims when Jesus returns as He promised,” said Berancile Nzamwitakuze, a Christian.
Another Christian, Martin Komezusenge, said Jesus was betrayed by His own people in the same way neighbours and some clerics betrayed Tutsi in 1994.
“Some denied that Jesus was the son of God; today we still face deniers of truth such as those who deny Genocide against the Tutsi. This must be a lesson for Rwandans on how to harmoniously live together,” Komezusenge said.
Louise Mukabunane, from ADEPR church in Muhima Sector, Kigali, said the message about Christ’s suffering on the cross, his death, and resurrection should be reflected by Rwandans during this commemoration period.
People can be tortured and killed, but forgiveness and hope for bright future is possible, she said.
She added that there is need to embrace positive values so that the number of hateful people decreases to save the world from conflicts and wars.