Palm Sunday! Passion Sunday! The beginning of the great week called Holy by all Christian religions. Today’s liturgy has two gospels because we begin with the reading of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and it all seems so glorious and wonderful, with crowds cheering and praising Jesus. But then, we go into the reading of the Passion in the Gospel of Mark. What a contrast from the beginning of the week to what will happen at the end. The gospels prepare us for what is to come. From glory to agony. From acclamations of “Hosanna!” to cries of “Crucify him.” What a mystery is contained in this week so Holy and so painful.
The Jewish people at the time of Jesus were desperate for a Messiah, someone who would help them to be freed of the power the Romans had over them. To all appearances, it seemed that Jesus was perhaps this Messiah. After all, wasn’t he the one who cured disease, raised people from the dead, gave sight to the blind and could turn a few loaves of bread and some fish into enough food for thousands? Yes, he must be the one we have been waiting for, thought the people. And they were so right! And yet, so wrong! He was the long-awaited Messiah, the chosen one of God. But not in the way the people expected. He came from poverty, lived in poverty, and fled from acclamation and praise. He carried no weapons to fight against the Romans, and he didn’t work miracles for himself. When he came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, riding on a humble colt, not riding in like a conquering hero, a royal earthly king, he was revealing who he was to those with eyes to see. Unfortunately, many were blind. Jesus was the awaited “king”, a messianic king, but not the expected king of power, the conquering hero.
Jesus turned the world as people knew it upside down. He was a messiah of contrasts and the unexpected. When we, too, cry Hosanna on Palm Sunday, there will be a ring of sadness and impending doom within our Hosanna. We know what is to come and we dread it. Yet, on Palm Sunday let us still rejoice in who Jesus is for us and in what he came to bring to us. Freedom! Salvation! Unconditional love! Heaven!
-Sr. Patricia Brady
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221