Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion (B) It is Passover season and Jerusalem is crowded with pilgrims. Jesus rides into the crowd on a colt, making a clear and explicit claim that he is the Messiah and heir to the throne of King David (see Zechariah 9:9-12). This gesture will ultimately get him killed.
What can we learn from the our Lord's passion? I always thought it showed us how tough Jesus was. But then I read how every condemned criminal was given a squad of five soldiers. Their job was to make sure you died a slow and painful death. Jesus was, in a sense, along for the brutal ride. So what, then, can we learn from Jesus' passion? I notice two things:
- The depths of human depravity. We all have a little dictator inside of us. We want to get our way (even just a little bit) and we are willing to manipulate, control, and dominate others. This desire ultimately leads to every form of evil imaginable. And it's all on display at the Crucifixion.
- The depths of God's love. Jesus didn't run away and he didn't defend himself. He suffered the most miserable death imaginable because he loves you. Despite our depravity, God has not stopped loving us.
So how can you and I move from human depravity to divine love? Jesus shows us the way is humble submission to the Father's will. Obedience to God breaks the cycle of trying to get my way. Let us lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us.
Going Deeper: From a sermon by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop (Office of Readings for Palm Sunday)
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the King of Israel
Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.
Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.
In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself. And even though we are told that he has now ascended above the highest heavens - the proof, surely, of his power and godhead - his love for man will never rest until he has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with his own in heaven.
So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children's holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.