This Sunday is Palm Sunday when we remember Jesus' triumphant march into Jerusalem.... and, to speak frankly, I don't like it one bit because every year, I want Jesus to stop and not enter the holy city. It is rather like giving last rites
to a dying parishioner; even when I know that person is about to be rewarded
with the joys of heaven, I just do not want to lose a friend.
Before I get to my feelings, let's start with tradition. A prophetic Scripture in the
Old Testament talked about the Messiah who would ride a donkey/colt into
Jerusalem. From the prophet Zechariah, "Everyone in Jerusalem, celebrate and
shout! Your king has won a victory, and he is coming to you. He is humble and
rides on a donkey; he comes on the colt of a donkey." (Zec 9:9) The people would
shout, according to Psalm 118, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the
Our Palm Sunday tradition in the western Church is to reenact Jesus' march. We read a passage from Scripture about Jesus entering into Jerusalem and then process into the church waving palms. In more recent history we then read from the Gospel about the crucifixion of Jesus. So we start with joy and leave with
But that's not why I don't like Palm Sunday.
I don't want Jesus to march in. I want him to stay out of Jerusalem and stay
alive. I don't want him to endure pain and suffering and then death. I want
Jesus to stay in Samaria, hang out in Jericho, stay in Cana of Galilee and turn
water into wine, travel to the sea of Tiberius and preach from a boat some more.
Why couldn't Jesus just stay under the shade of an olive tree and preach about
the Kingdom of God? I want him to spend more time in leper colonies and do more healing. Every year on Palm Sunday I yearn for Jesus to stay at Lazarus' house and to eat, relax, and enjoy life. Why doesn't Jesus stay out in the golden
fields of grain and talk more about the Shepherd who goes after the one lost
sheep. Why doesn't he spare his mother, Mary, the pain of witnessing her son
deformed by beatings and then hanging dead on a tree. I don't want Mary to
become inconsolable with pain and grief. Every year I want God to spare the
sword that will pierce her soul. And every year it happens without my consent.
This year, when I began to write this Reflection, Jesus spoke to me through Scripture and music. He told me that my role in the Kingdom is not to hold him back. That is not how our relationship works. He told me that my role is hold on tightly and not let go of His love because his role is to extend his hand to save those who are holding on. (Psalm 37:23-24 and Hebrews 10:23)
Despite my desire that Jesus be spared the pain of the cross, I am called to keep the eyes of my heart fixed on him and the resurrection of new life. While I might
struggle with the notion of the crucified God, Jesus is calling me to take his
hand and walk with him through the days of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and
Good Friday so that we can celebrate his resurrection. My role is also to invite
others to hold on tightly to Jesus' hand and to invite those in times of grief
to think about his mother and to know that God healed and blessed her. Perhaps,
those of us in the Church should be doing all of these things too.
May you receive strength from the Holy Spirit to hold on tightly to Jesus' hand and walk with him through the days of Holy Week,