Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022
Scripture: Luke 19:28-40, CEB
After Jesus said this, he continued on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
As Jesus came to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he gave two disciples a task. He said, “Go into the village over there. When you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘Its master needs it.’” Those who had been sent found it exactly as he had said.
As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “Its master needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their clothes on the colt, and lifted Jesus onto it. As Jesus rode along, they spread their clothes on the road.
As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice because of all the mighty things they had seen. They said,
“Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens.”
Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, scold your disciples! Tell them to stop!”
He answered, “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.”
During the first part of my life in which I grew up as a Christian within one of the main denominations of the Catholic or Universal Church, I learned that during the Christian liturgical year, most of the Christian world celebrates five religious feasts.
These are Christmas Day, where we celebrate the incarnation and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Resurrection Sunday, and I left for last a feast that even many believers in Santeria and Spiritism attended, Palm Sunday. On that special day, even the santeros attended the mass or religious service to receive the "blessed palm branches". What a thing, isn't it, how even those considered idolaters join in the temples!
One thing that is to be commended is that even in our post-modern times, on that same day the following verse is sung which is centered on the Lord: "Hosanna in the highest!" That ancient song we sing, for Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven, our King".
That same day, my Sunday school teacher taught us to make crosses with our palms while we sang the previous verse of the song. But something that always caught my attention, because I could not understand it, was that on that same day the whole gospel of the passion was read, according to the evangelist who was sharing that year.
The big question, why on one day we honor and celebrate the King, and profess our faith to Him, and on the next day we forget how He demonstrated His power? Why do we forget that the example of the exercise of His kingship gave us an example of humility and submission to walk in obedience to the Father? How did He do it? Christ exercised ministry as a compassionate and merciful King, being steadfast in the face of adversity, standing firm facing the rocky and painful road to Calvary, in obedience to the Father, as a stepping stone to eternal life for mankind.
Christ exercised his kingship when He did not judge us for our faults but included us by welcoming us into His life. He ate and lived with sinners and the corrupt. He called to conversion sinful men and women like Levi, and Zacchaeus, who, being tax collectors, and possibly corrupt, He called them to follow Him and minister to Him.
Moreover, Christ manifested His kingship when He was humiliated, scourged, mocked, even after healing paralytics. He who gave sight to the blind, and even raised a man dead for more than three days was rejected. What a contradiction, isn't it, that we celebrate the King and the Crucified One on the same day!
Historically speaking, the day of the palms and the Friday of the crucifixion; both events occurred on different days, but not far from each other.
If we consider, and compare our lives, it is very easy for us to say in our churches that we are Christians, and we rejoice in worship services, praising Jesus, with praises, lively music, that our hearts are filled every day with worship and prayer services.
Many times, we don't want to admit it, but when we go out the next day to our daily tasks and jobs, we idolize leaders, the world of power, financial banking, luxuries, and we judge others, to feel better than them. Unfortunately, this even happens after we have been restored by God.
We begin to feel righteous, perfect, and many of us forget that we are no different than the sinners we criticize. We value power when we pardon the powerful, we idolize the politicians, the celebrities of this world. When that happens, we begin to despise the orphaned children, the poor, the homeless, the undocumented immigrants, those who are not of my political or sexual preference, we even feel we are better than all those who are not Christians. We despise atheists, we belittle Hindi, Jews, and Muslims.
Every time each one of us feels that we are better than those other people, we are doing the same thing as the Pharisees and Sadducees. They joined together to attack Jesus, and crucify him on the cross, because the truth of the Good News he preached was dangerous.
What does Jesus invite us to change to be more like him?
Jesus calls us to another path where we harbor spiritual poverty, meekness, cleanness of heart, service, and unconditional love, so that we can join in the pilgrimage of transforming our lives in love.
Yes, more than 2022 years ago, Jesus promoted the inclusion of all known rejects and sinners at the time. Spending time to draw them onto the path of transformation into good people, including them into the fold, so that they would see and feel in their hearts that, yes God is powerful, and changes lives, not by judging, but by including, forgiving, and loving all people.
Today this pilgrimage is more relevant than ever. Today we begin a very special journey. This week is one where God's Word invites us to see ourselves in Jesus, to walk in Jesus' footsteps, and we will do so by letting God's Holy Spirit guide us to transformation, sustaining us in the midst of the struggles and challenges we may be facing in our daily lives.
Christ invites us to follow Him in humility, seeking the inclusion and unity of all human beings.
The question for you and me is; What do I have to do so that Jesus alone can be King and reign in my life?
Let us pray
Faithful and nearby God, Your son Jesus revealed to us the means that lead us to become and be humble servants of God's kingdom.
His humble obedience to You cost Him to give his life on the cross. But thanks to His loving sacrifice on the cross, You grant us healing, hope and peace.
During this Holy Week that begins, we help to reflect and live in the love of Christ. May our words and actions point to and reflect Your grace and power.
We also ask You to bring peace in all the places where there is war throughout the world.
We pray, in Jesus' sweet Name, the King of Kings and Prince of Peace. Amen.