Saturday, 4 April 2009

Palm Sunday: the blessing of the Palms

I will not take the Gospel of this Sunday, as it is the passion narrative of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 14:1-15:37). Instead I take the passage which is read with the blessing of the palms as it is more relevant to Palm Sunday and I will reflect more on the passion on Good Friday. So the we take Mk 11:1-10.

We read in this passage about the entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem, five days before His death. It starts with the two disciples who are sent out to get the colt on which "no one has ever sat" to be used for His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. The many spread their garments and palm branches on the ground before him, and those who went before and those who followed cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (Mar 11:9 RSV). We can easily hear the resounding of the prophesy of Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass. (Zec 9:9 RSV)

It is interesting I think to look at this in the light of the gospel of the Saturday before Palm Sunday, when we are told that the coucil of the chief priests and the Pharisees decided to put Jesus to death and Jesus therefore no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples. (Joh 11:54 NAS)

So there is defiantly an sense in the air of something extraordinary happening here, as after have been at a distance before the feast, and the people even wondering if he would come (Jn 11:56) Jesus suddenly makes His entrance into Jerusalem, boldly riding on a donkey. Something is going to happen it seems...

For our lives this is an interesting concept. The priests seemed to want to kill Jesus, and subsequent he goes away "in hiding". Things seem to go bad, and the people are wondering what is going to happen. Then suddenly he makes a big spectacle during his entry, even though the young donkey was never ridden on and therefore possibly rough and no fancy sadle was available but some old garments but still suddenly there seems to be a spark of hope. Not all is perfect, but something seems to be moving and the people sing "Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!" (Mar 11:10 RSV) their hopes being revived for the iminent coming of the Kingdom of David.

Then however, as we know now, and will explore during the next week, things take a sudden turn again...

Imagine going through this all, it seems to me that it would feel like a roller coaster, going up one moment, going down the next, swerving left and then suddenly right... life can be a bit like that, things might be difficult, but suddenly everything seems to come together, prayers are answered, the excitement is tangible. But then however, even though everything seemed to go the right way, it does not materialize, and after some time of hope and anticipation the excitement wears of and we seem to be back at start, our hopes evaporated and our prayers seemingly unanswered...

However, the above is just our human understanding, and if the above example strikes a cord maybe this Holy Week it would be worth to meditate on what actually happened nearly two thousand years ago. Never mind the human perception, but look at the infinite, the divine perception... as we will travel though the week the human perception shows defeat, failure, betrayal and denial... but the greatest accomplishment in heaven and earth occurs in the middle of this all, unnoticed by everyone bar maybe the few (ex. the mother of Jesus and Jesus himself of course): Jesus purchased for us eternal life!

The world would never be the same again, and even though it seemed like everything was a failure from the outside, in the scope of the bigger picture unalterable changes had occured! So too whould we reflect on our lives, and see the bigger picture and learn to trust on God, as Jesus did...

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