Jesus Enters Jerusalem

At the Procession of Palms that begins the Palm Sunday Mass, we listen to Mark’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

It is noteworthy that, despite the fact that he knows the end is coming, Jesus makes a public entry into Jerusalem.  He doesn’t steal into the city during the night; rather, he comes in publicly and with acclamations of Hosanna! He comes in publicly, showing he was not afraid of the power and malice of his enemies in Jerusalem.  In the words of one commentator, “Though he was now but taking the field, and girding on the harness, yet, being fully assured of a complete victory, he thus triumphs as though he had put it off.”

The image of Jesus entering Jerusalem “fully assured of a complete victory” is one we need to take to heart. We do and we will have tough times and it makes an enormous difference how we approach those times. This passage reminds us that Jesus’ death and resurrection mean that victory has already been won for us. So we can do all we do in confidence and joy. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem fully assured of a complete victory, we can face all we need to face in exactly the same way.

As we go through the events of Holy Week, even as we pray with Jesus’ final hours, let us not lose sight of the fact that victory has already been won for us



Today, as I and the retreatants with whom I have spend these last few days prepare to bring our retreat experience to a close, we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowds praise him and lay palms at his feet, still thinking he has come to establish a kingdom here on earth. These same crowds will soon be crying, “Crucify Him!”

Today, however (with apologies to those of you who are not fans of Jesus Christ Superstar), they sing out their Hosannas:

Blessings on this Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion!

Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord

Today is Palm Sunday. Catholics today will process into Mass palms in hand, listening to St. Luke’s account of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We will hear how as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, people spread their cloaks on the road and “began to praise God aloud with joy.”

It is almost jarring to hear the crowds proclaim, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” Jarring because we know the rest of the story.

And since we know what will shortly follow that scene, we have to ask ourselves, how did the crowd turn so quickly from “Blessed is he” to “Crucify him”? How could the same people who proclaimed the first demand the second?

It is not just an interesting historical question. It is not just about those people on those two days. Don’t we really do the same? Praise God in one moment and, by our words and deeds, reject him in the next.

I posted once before this song by Danielle Rose. It is a good one to help us think about the ways in which we do exactly as the crowds did who turned against Jesus.

Update: At the Mass I attended this evening at my sister’s church, the priest asked us to remember that Jesus was aware of our fickleness – our ability to move from praise to condemnation to indifference – and went through his part in his father’s plan anyway.

Palm Sunday and the Beginning of Holy Week

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Today we celebrate today Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. As he rides down the street on a donkey, people shout “Hosanna” and lay palm branches before his path.

In one respect, the scene seems like a cruel mockery to us because as we know what awaits Jesus. 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 will march into our churches, waving our palms and crying out, just as the people of Jerusalem did, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” 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.

Some questions to consider:

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?

As you contemplate the last of those, I’d suggest listening to this song of Danielle Rose’s:

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. We celebrate today Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The apparently triumphant scene – with people shouting “Hosanna” and laying palm branches before his path – may, in one respect, seem a cruel mockery to us, as we know what awaits Jesus.

Yet, we still march into our churches, waving our palms and we cry out, just as the people of Jerusalem did, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The difference is that we shout it knowing we are paying homage to no worldly king.

Instead, we wave our palms and sing our Hosannas to the Messiah who, in the words of the Palm Sunday invocation by the priest prior to the processional into church, “entered in triumph into his own city, to complete his work as our Messiah: to suffer, to dies, and to rise again.” For us, the triumphal entry is the prelude to Jesus’ suffering and death, which allows us to “share in his resurreciton and new life.”

And so, on this day, we not only process in with our palms and our hosannas. As we will again on Good Friday, we listen to The Passion of our Lord, knowing that the King to whom we pay homage is on his way to his death, willingly undertaken for our sake.

Palm Sunday

I attended the evening Mass in our parish tonight, the Mass I usually attend since it is the one at which our teen choir sings.   As I always do, I listened intently to the recitation of the Passion, watching the scenes in my mind as I heard the words read, wondering what I would have done in Peter’s place….or in the place of the crowd.  Always, when the crowd says, “Give us Barrabas,” I cringe in pain….Is it pain at what “they” did or is it the pain of not knowing what I would have done?  I listened to my daughter and her fellow choir members sing beautifully in praise of the Lamb that was slain.  (And, as I listened to my daughter sing the descant on both the song during the preparation of the gifts and the first communion song, I again gave thanks to God for the incredible gift this child is.)

What struck me most was a line in one of the songs they sang, Above All.  It is not a song I knew before we joined this parish.  The refrain goes: “Crucified, laid behind a stone, You lived to die, rejected and alone.  Like a rose trampled on the ground, You took the fall and thought of me above all.”  I could barely hold back tears as I listened to the last two lines – there seems to me something so powerful in the likening of Jesus to a rose trampled on the ground.  Something forgotten, tossed aside…something you don’t give a second glance to.  Judas betraying, Peter denying, the others running away.

And yet, even in the rejection, in the abandonment, suffering unbearably, there is Jesus, thinking only of us….only of me.  And as I write this I recall the words uttered one morning from the altar by a priest I knew and loved, who died several years ago.  He looked up and said, “You know, Jesus didn’t just die for all of us, He died for each of us.”  I am continually struck by the incredible reality of that – of the idea that He did it for us, but equally He did it for me.  That no matter what I do or don’t do, Jesus did it for me.  That rejected and alone, Jesus thought of me.  There is a thought to take through Holy Week.