Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

The Lord of all Creation presents himself riding into Jerusalem on a donkey's back.

Luke 19:29-40:

And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethania, unto the mount called Olivet, he sent two of his disciples, Saying: Go into the town which is over against you, at your entering into which you shall find the colt of an ass tied, on which no man ever hath sitten: loose him, and bring him hither.

And if any man shall ask you: Why do you loose him? you shall say thus unto him: Because the Lord hath need of his service. And they that were sent, went their way, and found the colt standing, as he had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said to them: Why loose you the colt? But they said: Because the Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus. And casting their garments on the colt, they set Jesus thereon.

And as he went, they spread their clothes underneath in the way. And when he was now coming near the descent of mount Olivet, the whole multitude of his disciples began with joy to praise God with a loud voice, for all the mighty works they had seen, Saying: Blessed be the king who cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory on high! And some of the Pharisees, from amongst the multitude, said to him: Master, rebuke thy disciples. To whom he said: I say to you, that if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.

Jesus didn't stop the people from proclaiming the truth of who He was even though many of those same people would be calling for his execution by Friday morning. What changed so many hearts in just one week? For years, there has been a school of thought that says that this change of heart had to do with the fact that people were expecting Christ to restore the Kingdom of Israel to earthly glory and depose Roman rule over Palestine. I am certain that this mentality played a role in people's quick change of mind, but I think there was something else at work as well.

In the course of the final days of his life, Jesus said many things that were uncomfortable to a whole lot of people. It went well beyond "love thy neighbor," Christ challenged the social and political power structure of his day. It wasn't Roman rule that Jesus was speaking out on, but the coziness of the religious and political leaders of the Palestine of his day with that rule. They didn't like it, but they tolerated a host of abuses and usurpations of God's law in order to get along with the Romans-they sold out. Christ rebuked those who sold God short in order to simply get along. There was also the other extreme: Christ spoke out with even greater vehemence against those who advocated a violent overthrow of the Roman regime. In the Jerusalem Bible translation we see some evidence of this when it tells us in a negative sense that Barabbas, who was released in Christ's place "was a revolutionary."

Neither side could stand the message Jesus was bringing when he began to preach it in Jerusalem. So often our people beg for honest leaders, but when those leaders tell us the truth, we tend to cast them aside and disregard them-the way those crowds first acclaimed Christ as hero and king, and then demanded that he be crucified.



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