Speak Lord: that we may rejoice for ever…

DSC02615 Palm Sunday

On Sunday, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, two Gospel passages are read. The first is that quoted below – the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding over plam branches, which gives Palm Sunday its popular and briefer name. It is read before the Procession or, at least, Entrance of the Mass.

The second is the account of the Passion read during the Liturgy of the Word. This second reading will appear on this blog tomorrow.

When they were near Jerusalem and had come in sight of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village facing you, and you will immediately find a tethered donkey and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, “The Master needs them and will send them back directly”.’ This took place to fulfil the prophecy:

Say to the daughter of Zion:
Look, your king comes to you;
he is humble, he rides on a donkey
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.

So the disciples went out and did as Jesus had told them. They brought the donkey and the colt, then they laid their cloaks on their backs and he sat on them. Great crowds of people spread their cloaks on the road, while others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in his path. The crowds who went in front of him and those who followed were all shouting:

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heavens!’

And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil. ‘Who is this?’ people asked, and the crowds answered, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

Matthew 21:1-11

One of the most shocking things of Holy Week is how, seemingly, within the week ‘Jerusalem’ turns on Jesus.

Maybe the crowd on Palm Sunday was different to that gathered to condemn Jesus at his trial. Maybe not. Crowds turn, very easily, very quickly.

And we can do the same as individuals. This or that happens, and our mask slips, or our mood swings.

The Lord comes to offer reconciliation to all, peace to all. To receive his gift, perhaps we first need to know how much we need it.

Fresco at Bethphage, the traditional site commemorating the beginning of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem. (c) 2017, Allen Morris. 

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