Palm Sunday presents for us a time of conflicting sentiments. Both a time for rejoicing in anticipation of Christ’s resurrection and of anxious anticipation awaiting the passion.
However, in the first instance, Palm Sunday heralds the paschal mystery into which we are all invited. As we journey into Holy Week, Palm Sunday marks for us the beginning of Christ’s sacrificial passion and glorious resurrection.
The Lord calls us to remain with him through the passion to ultimately rise with him to new life.
Christ goes before us and marks out the path he calls us to follow. Though the cross is before us, we have Our Lord’s example, grace and ultimate victory over death to fortify and embolden our efforts along the way.
As Jesus enters Jerusalem, aware of the suffering to come, he remains steadfast in his resolve to do the will of the Father, looking past the earthly Jerusalem to the heavenly one.
Christ enters Jerusalem with nothing other than the donkey and foal he asked his disciples to bring. How fitting that the donkey, a humble beast and bearer of burdens, should bear Christ who humbly bore the burden of our salvation.
What the Lord has “need of” we ought to send “immediately.” Christ sends for the donkey and the foal and there is perhaps a temptation to view this scenario as somewhat unjust—apparently the animals are appropriated at whim.
Yet it is worth reflecting that all we have is Christ’s, indeed are gifts from Christ, and so are owed to him. Do we immediately respond to God’s call upon our gifts for use in his service?
The hymnographer Samuel Crossman sang of a “love unknown, our Saviour’s love to the loveless shown.”
Through the sacraments we touch the Lord and receive his healing. We are restored to life with God our Father. We can move freely in the Spirit as children of God.
And yet Jesus disappoints those who would fight for an earthly kingdom.
Though he cured lepers and gave sight to the blind, these were miracles wrought to show the power of his words, when he claimed to be able to cancel sin. We are still left with the need to plead for our daily bread.
“As we enter into a time of heightened preparation and purification, let us reflect on the way in which we emulate the humility of our redeemer, offer our gifts in his service, and surrender to the will of one who knows us.”
Faced with a situation of oppression, those in authority are willing to sacrifice the Innocent One for the preservation of their grip on the people.
The devil enters the heart of those who distrust Jesus’ way, who give in to fear and place their trust in princes, in the strength of chariot and horse. They have no intention of staying their sword.
Crossman expresses these sentiments well in his hymn, “My song is love unknown”:
Sometimes they crowd his way
and his sweet praises sing,
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
is all their breath,
and for his death
they thirst and cry.
They rise and needs will have
my dear Lord made away.
A murderer they save,
the Prince of life they slay.
Yet cheerful he
to suff’ring goes
that he his foes
from death might free.
Even when we join Judas and Peter in their betrayal of Jesus there is the hope of reconciliation. He is our friend indeed. So few know this.
Close to Mary, John, and the holy women we can enter into Holy Week with the firm resolution to follow Jesus along this via crucis and to keep watch.
As we enter into a time of heightened preparation and purification, let us reflect on the way in which we emulate the humility of our redeemer, offer our gifts in his service, and surrender to the will of one who knows us.
Christ does not ask of us something he himself has not already accomplished. Rather he walks ahead of us that we might follow in his footsteps.
Do I seek to follow and place my trust in the sturdy path on which Christ leads me?