Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. It is the day on which we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. While Covid precautions mean we won’t march into our churches with our palms as we usually do, still we recall Jesus riding down the street on a donkey, with people shouting “Hosanna” and laying their cloaks and palm branches before his path.
In one respect, knowing the succeeding acts in this story as we do, the scene seems like a cruel mockery to us; we know what awaits Jesus. We know that many of the same people who should “Hosanna” as Jesus rides into Jerusalem will, in only a few days, scream out, “Crucify Him.”
This morning, during our Palm Sunday Mass, we will have a chance to reflect on the juxtaposition of these two events. We begin our service recalling the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Then, as we will again on Good Friday, we will listen to a gospel account of The Passion of our Lord, in our turn, crying out Crucify Him.
We could treat it all as playacting, with us simply playing the roles of the crowds in the two scenes. Or we could use it for an opportunity for serious reflection, recognizing that our words and deeds always either give glory to Jesus or contribute toward his suffering. Because, make no mistake, we are always doing one or the other.
So we may wish to take some time to reflect on questions such as:
When am I like one or another of those crowds?
Do I recognize and celebrate Jesus when I encounter Him?
Are there times when my words or actions are the equivalent of the crowds crying for Jesus’ crucifixion?