Our Lord’s entry to Jerusalem has been usually called “triumphant.” How else, after all, to describe the throng of people waving palms, laying their cloaks on the road, and shouting “Hosanna”?
But when we think about it, it’s really triumphant only on the surface.
First of all, Jesus intended his entry into the Holy City to be anything but triumphant. The evangelist makes this clear by pointing out that he fulfilled the ancient prophecy by riding not on a mighty stallion, but on a humble donkey. For all we know, the Lord might even have been surprised by the rousing welcome that greeted him.
And of course, more than anyone else, Jesus was all too aware that he would soon enough overstay his welcome. He knew all to well where this triumphant procession would end up–and it wouldn’t be a pretty sight.
Not to forget: Not everyone in Jerusalem was thrilled at his arrival. The Jewish leaders did not even bother to hide their displeasure. They complained about the noise that the crowd made. They resented the disruption that this so-called Messiah’s appearance on the scene created. The message they sent to our Lord was pretty loud and clear: We don’t want to be disturbed. Leave us alone!
Today, Passion Sunday, ushers in a week when we are invited by the Church to enter more and more deeply into the mysteries of Holy Week. What is our true feelings as we stand on the brink of this week?
Are we like the Pharisees and the scribes, too busy with their routines and responsibilities, for whom the arrival of the Lord is a disturbance–best ignored or discarded?
Or are we more like the welcoming crowds, eager for a glimpse of the Lord, waving their palms and singing his praises?
Do we stand before this Holy Week with raised palms or with raised eyebrows? Are these the only two options?
There is a third way of welcoming Holy Week, also suggested by this event. We could also welcome the Lord with the silence of the stones, with hearts hardened by this thing called life–but also, ready to burst in song any minute now.
Check out our online Holy Week retreat this Holy Thursday by clicking HERE. Please tell your friends about it.