Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – 2 April 2023

HOSANNA to the King Vs CRUCIFY HIM Everyone loves a parade! Costumes, slogans, banners and music all compete to draw your attention. The onlooker joins in. Passive nervous spectators have no place. Triumphal entries of victorious Roman Military officials were a common sight. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was of a different kind. Jesus seems to organize his own parade that will finally kill him! Jesus embraces his own execution amid song and acclamation. Hosannas and evergreen Palms are soon replaced with cries for crucifixion and a crown of dry thorns.

TRIUMPHAL ENTRY Vs RIDING ON A COLT: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech 9:9) Processions that follow triumphant Messiahs are glamorous. The triumphant one rides on a white horse, a symbol of Roman military might. Jesus chose a donkey, a symbol of a poor man’s beast of burden! It was a symbolic entry. There was no stopping Jesus now. His Kingdom had to be ushered in peacefully.

LOYAL FOLLOWERS Vs FALSE ACCUSERS: Jesus always gave a flip-side conclusion in all his teachings and parables. His listeners had to make a ‘new choice’ that was different from the status quo. Not all were ready to accept his KOG teachings and values. Many walked away. The scribes and Pharisees tried to trap him. They sought to kill him. The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was the right moment to get the bystanders to change their loyalties. Shouts of Hosanna soon changed into “Crucify him, crucify him!”

PASSION AND ULTIMATE TRIUMPH: Triumphant Roman soldiers marched along the Via Appia, middle of the Roman forum and up the hill to Piazza del Campidoglio (the seat of the Senate, government base of ancient Rome, and site of numerous religious shrines and for the administration of justice). Jesus chose a different route, one that would lead to Calvary—a different hill of shame and scorn. Jesus could have made a detour to avoid Calvary. The question is, “Did his forgiving love require the cross?” Yes, it did! His forgiving love made him vulnerable to suffering and shame and he embraced it wholeheartedly as the ‘Will of his Father’. You now enter this Holy Week to reflect on Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. The great Paschal Mystery is yours to embrace, to hold holy the love that opposed violence and the love that endured violence, the love that made it way up to Calvary with a cross on his back. There is no forgiving love without the cross.

Fr Glenford Lowe

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