It’s Passover festival in Jerusalem, the holiest season in the Jewish year. Thousands upon thousands of Jewish pilgrims have been travelling toward the Holy City to remember and celebrate God’s rescue of his people from long and heavy bondage in Egypt. As Jesus enters Jerusalem riding upon that lowly donkey, the mood of the thronging multitude turns deliriously jubilant. The people walk beside him as he rides, and laud him loudly as “King of the Jews.”
….the whole multitude of disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying: "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven." (Luke 19.37-38)
It’s Passover festival in Jerusalem, the holiest season in the Jewish year. Thousands upon thousands of Jewish pilgrims have been travelling toward the Holy City to remember and celebrate God’s rescue of his people from long and heavy bondage in Egypt.
Jesus and his disciples are part of the vast company of pilgrims. At his instruction, Jesus’ disciples have gone into the city ahead of him to find a donkey for him to ride upon to make his entrance (Note well: Jesus specified a donkey upon which to ride, a symbol of peace, not a white horse, a symbol of military aggression cf. Zechariah 9.9-10).
As Jesus enters Jerusalem riding upon that lowly donkey, the mood of the thronging multitude turns deliriously jubilant. The people walk beside him as he rides, and laud him loudly as “King of the Jews.” The people sing:
The entire slow march forward turns into something of a triumphal procession to honor Jesus.
I give the rest of this column to Jorge Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, recently elected as Pope Francis I. In his Palm Sunday 2008 address to his Argentine flock, the Archbishop declared:
“Today, here in Buenos Aires, like in Jerusalem on that day, the street made way for Jesus. The street received Him properly. The crowd stood, begged for blessings, blessings for their families, blessings for their businesses, their houses, their autos… Blessing, what does that [really] mean? [It means] that Jesus “speak well” of something, that He approach! That He enter families, hearts, homes, autos, businesses…Jesus out in the street, interacting with the crowd…There. His desire is, just as the gates of the city were opened to Him, the same is done with the doors to our hearts. Every Holy Week He asks the same thing: “Open your heart to Me. I’m not here to mortify you! I’m not here to boss you around! I’m not here to take anything from you…I’m here to give you everything. I want to make you happy.” That’s what He’s telling us. If we slam the doors to our hearts in His face, He suffers. Although He is used to it, He suffers. And we lose the opportunity to become happy.
“We say that today the Church has spilled out into the street, to imitate that Palm Sunday, but also to affirm that today, in a special way and by extension, the place for Christ is out in the street. The Gospels tell us He would go to the temple, that He would go to the synagogue, but they also tell us he was on the roads, in the cities, in the streets. Today the place for Christ is the street; the place for the Christian is the street. The Lord wants us like Him: with an open heart, roaming the streets of Buenos Aires. He wants us walking the streets of Buenos Aires and carrying His message! Like Him, on the road and on the street. He doesn’t want us hoarding His word just for ourselves, locked inside our own hearts, our own house, or in the temple, instead that we spill His word on the street. He wants us walking out on the street.”
As we, followers of Jesus Christ, begin this Holy Week, may we plead for God’s help to be openly attentive to the One who was willing to give his life for us. May we aim to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus; our ears open to what he speaks; our feet willing to walk with him toward Calvary; and our lips eager to acclaim Jesus as our Savior and Lord.