Jesus enters Jerusalem in a triumphant procession and then cleans the Temple of those who have perverted it.
Now it begins. Now we are at the beginning of the eight monumental days that end with the Day of Resurrection. Now we see crowds rallying around Jesus. They bring their understanding and expectation of the Messiah as he enters Jerusalem. Many may have expected the Messiah to liberate Israel from Roman occupation. They sing and shout words from Psalm 118, one of the Hallel Psalms, to welcome Jesus and to prepare the way for the “coming kingdom of our ancestor David.” With such expectations on this day, it is no surprise that these same people would later express bitterness and unrealized hopes when the authorities arrest Jesus. Instead of receiving the reality Jesus presented, they projected their agendas on him.
We may also project our own agendas on others and on Jesus, though perhaps not to the level of those who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. Lines from the long form of the Serenity Prayer offer this corrective:
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Seeing and taking the world as it is rather than as what we project remains a challenge. Our egos want to create safety by projecting a world based on images from the past or on future fantasies. We see this at work in those who welcomed Jesus as they hoped for a return to the Davidic kingdom or for an end of the Roman occupation. When we allow ego to make such projections, we fail to see present reality.
Jesus stayed firmly grounded in the present. Thus he entered Jerusalem and demonstrated love for all he met on this day and in all the days that would come.
God, help me to see the reality of our world as Jesus did. Amen.
This week’s readings prepare us for Palm Sunday, a joyous event. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, a symbol of kingship in ancient Israel. The people greet him with loud acclamations. He is coming in the name of the Lord! Standing along the road leading into Jerusalem, how could anyone imagine what would happen that following week? Wasn’t Jesus finally going to manifest the fullness of God’s power, take his place on the throne of David, and overthrow the Romans? No, because that was not his mission. He came not to build an earthly kingdom but to lay aside his rights. He came to be glorified by being humiliated . . . for us. He came to suffer and die . . . for us.
Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. How does your faith community reflect the servant in this reading?
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How are you rejoicing in this day that the Lord has made? How are you blessing “the one who comes in the name of the Lord”?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. How does this hymn of the early Christian community speak to you as you prepare for Holy Week?
Read Mark 11:1-11, 15-18. Spend some time imagining the scene of Jesus entering Jerusalem as described in the reading. Where are you in the scene? What do you see? What do you hear around you? What do you feel as you watch this event?
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