“As Lent went on, we lost our enthusiasm for prayer, fasting, and alms giving”
Palm Sunday celebrates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
Why did the crowds lay branches and carry branches shouting “Hosanna to the highest blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord? “
In the Old Testament the kind of reception the crowds gave to Jesus depicts Psalm 118, a psalm that was a description of a king coming into the city of Jerusalem.
By the first century AD it was interpreted as a prophetic song as a psalm about the coming of the future king the Messiah to the city of Jerusalem.
So when they start proclaiming the words of this psalm—blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,—they are in effect welcoming Jesus into the city of Jerusalem as both King and Messiah.
The crowds who greeted Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem with joyful enthusiasm, a few days later many were undoubtedly among the crowd filled with hate—screaming “crucify him! Crucify him!”
This shows the contrast between human and divine plans, and the fickleness of human hearts.
Following the way of the cross is hard.
Or doing what is right even when it is not popular.
It is much easier to join the crowd, and chant praises or spew curses with them.
The church’s history has many saints and martyrs who did not conform to the sins of their times, but followed Jesus even to the cross.
But sadly, there are also many of us who are swayed by the fear and hatred of the crowd, and who vent our anger on the nearest, most innocent victim Jesus, the servant who suffered, who comforted the weary, who endured insults and beatings, who gave up himself as a servant who obeyed until death.
Jesus is our Lord, the one we should follow wherever he goes, however hard the way.
But following Christ does not mean we tolerate abuse.
Rather following Christ means we speak out against abuse and stand with those who are abused.
This is the way of the cross, the way of Christ.
But be not afraid for we will not be put to shame, we will not be disgraced for God is our help, Jesus is our lord and the Holy Spirit is our power.
Palm Sunday challenges us to reflect on our own faithfulness to Jesus.
Are we like the crowds who praised him one day and rejected him the next?
Are we like the disciples who promised to stay with him but ran away at the first sign of trouble?
Are we like Peter who denied knowing him out of fear?
Or are we like the women who stood by him at the cross?
Are we like John who took care of his mother?
Are we like Joseph who buried him with dignity?
Palm Sunday invites us to be true followers of Jesus, not just fair-weather fans.
It is not easy to be loyal to him when he is unpopular or misunderstood.
It is not easy to do what he asks us when it goes against our desires or opinions.
It is not easy to stand up for him when others mock or persecute us.
But it is worth it, because he is our king and messiah, our savior and friend.
He loves us so much that he gave his life for us.
He deserves our love and obedience in return.
Palm Sunday prepares us for the Easter Triduum, the most sacred time of the year for Catholics.
It is a beautiful liturgy that reminds us of the events that led to our salvation.
It helps us to enter into the mystery of Jesus’s passion, death, and resurrection.
It calls us to join him in his journey from Jerusalem to Calvary, from the cross to the tomb, from death to life.
Maybe we started this Lent with a strong resolve to pray more sincerely, fast more diligently, and give alms more generously.
But as Lent went on, we lost our enthusiasm for prayer, fasting, and alms giving.
Maybe we often waste our time arguing with each other about who is the best among us, whose politics or ideologies are more attractive, even though we are fully aware that war, poverty, racism, and intolerance still exist, sickness still affects many among us.
But because Jesus has the highest name of all, because we kneel before him, because we acknowledge him as our Lord, we will obey him and carry our cross or rather the cross that Jesus has given us.
We must never join the angry and violent crowd that shouts crucify him! Crucify him! But instead, with Jesus by our side, we are not forsaken, there can be no reason to fear, and so we sing:
Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna to our King! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna! Our King is here!
Sing, Hosanna! To the Son of David, Hosanna! O, Hosanna! He is our King! Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna! Our King is here!
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