The Gospel read at the Commemoration of the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, at the beginning of our celebration of Palm Sunday, is worth hearing again…
When they were approaching Jerusalem, in sight of Bethphage and Bethany, close by the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go off to the village facing you, and as soon as you enter it you will find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, “What are you doing?” say, “The Master needs it and will send it back here directly”.’
They went off and found a colt tethered near a door in the open street. As they untied it, some men standing there said, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They gave the answer Jesus had told them, and the men let them go.
Then they took the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on its back, and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, others greenery which they had cut in the fields. And those who went in front and those who followed were all shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heavens!’
Jesus’ enters Jerusalem surrounded by praise and joy. He will leave the city some few days later beaten, bleeding, spat upon, exhausted.
Our comings and goings in this life can be marked by similar reversals, and even if (thank God!) they are not often of such extreme passions.
By God’s grace, though, our coming into being, into life, is gift to the world. (Though it is tragic to know how often the gift is spurned, and how often – in all sorts of circumstances and all through life – the world turns its back on the potential and wonder of every human life.)
By God’s grace, too, our passing from this life is intended to be always a passing into the glory of eternal communion with God and neighbour. (Though we need always to seek to do what we can to receive and live that gift.)
The entry to Jerusalem and all that Christ endures in the days that follow is gift to win us for life. Our praise this week may be muted by recognition of all that was, and is, necessary to save us, but praise it must be.
- For what, in particular, will you give thanks this Holy Week?
Carved capital in the Cloister of St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris