Let’s enter into Holy week

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Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, and some people pave His way with palm fronds. Palm Sunday, and Holy Week begins.

This is the opening scene. People gather into Jerusalem for the Passover, and it becomes a bustling city. People come from all around, imagine New York City on New Year’s (or Saint Patrick’s Day). People come from all over. Some are the followers of Jesus, and some are unaware of the activity that surrounds Christ. Others are administrators of the city, and still others are administrators of the religious celebration. People in society come from all backgrounds. Sometimes we think we are the center of attention. We think of those placing palm fronds in front of Christ.

The gospel reminds us of those that opposed Christ, The Sanhedrin, and the Temple officials. Then there are the Romans who are on the lookout for conflict. Finally there are the disciples. There is Judas, the one who betrays Christ. There is Thomas and his doubts. There is Peter, fearful and indecisive. There are those curious, and those committed to His message. They are disciples of varying degree. Like the disciples, there are those unbaptized into His preaching. Curious perhaps? Of course the ones that reject the Lord outright, the opponents. Crowds are variable and Jesus does not ride into a uniform opinion.

Committed, curious, unsure, fearful, and hatred. As Jesus rides into Jerusalem, he embraces them all. But what is the point? This is simply a description of the event. The point is this, everyone is in that crowd. The point is that every opinion and emotion that stood in that spot that day, walks on the earth today. Every opinion and emotion that was on the roadside then, is present now.

The question becomes where do we stand, where do I stand? Who am I in the crowd? Jesus, he made himself known. He preached His gospel without duplicity. The question is who am I, where do I stand, who do I take after? Its Holy week. Palm Sunday. Now I wonder who should be my guide. To that I answer Mary, she never left his side. This is a long week, and the most important week of the year. I should be present, and a willing participant. I should place myself in that crowd, I should examine at where I stand. That’s why the palm branches were handed out, so I can take my place in the crowd and witness what’s being done for me. It’s important.

(PS: lets not forget the donkey, that creature has been mentioned by many.)

palm sunday on a monday

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It is the start of Holy Week, and this is a big Sunday.So much is written of it I would rather read than write! But still, I am typing. Palm Sunday marks Jesus procession into Jerusalem and it is the beginning of His passion; His crucifixion , death, and resurrection. The question becomes, how does someone approach this day? Should I view this day, from today’s perspective with full knowledge of the events to unfold? Should I view it from the perspective of the attendees of this event on the first Palm Sunday? There are a lot of ways to approach this narrative.

Today we understand this day as the beginning of Holy Week and the conclusion of Lent. Two thousand plus years ago, people threw those palms in front of Jesus the Christ entering into a city. They were but one of the groups of people present on that day. Historians of the day suggest they were large in number, but they were not the only ones present. Jerusalem was a complicated city. It was the seat of Judaism, the city of the Jewish Temple, a destination for faithful pilgrims who came from throughout the diaspora. Some of these knew the Christ and others have yet to be introduced to Him. The city was also an occupied city under Roman rule, and that was a powerful empire with a large military and forceful government. They were dominant. Aside from being a religious hub the Temple was also an economic engine, its economy contributed to the Empire through taxes and also to the temple priests. The temple priests , the local element. When Jesus enters that city, He is not only welcomed by the Disciples, He is also watched by the others. That is the complex narrative reenacted during the Mass of Palm Sunday. The Roman authority, the nervous and angry Sanhedrin, the angry crowd, and the disciples. The disciple’s.

This is Palm Sunday, Jesus entry into the city. Think back to another season where Jesus makes another entry, He enters into our world at the Nativity. At that Nativity the crowds were there too. There was the anger of Herod, the census of Rome, the Holy Family. Then there is he procession of the Shepherds to the crèche, and the Magi’s make their appearance. Contrast the slaughter of the Holy innocents with Christ’s crucifixion. Both are days of adoration, and of violence. Both contain those that welcome the Christ, and those that are violently opposed to Him. The purpose of the Nativity is the Resurrection. Easter is the Nativities grand finale. One can look back at the First Palm Sunday and see the Joy of those first Christians that welcomed Jesus into the city. It is the same joy that sang Joy to the World the Lord Has Come. Their joy is important when examining this Palm Sunday. The joy of this day influences how one approaches the days to come. Throughout the week there are going to be challenges to joy. The greatest of course occurs on Good Friday. The thing though is in Christians that emotion does not die. It is challenged, it is suppressed, and it is hated. It does not die, and I think that is the historical lesson of the first Palm Sunday. Their joy punctuates the essence of Christ’s resurrection. Joy triumphs despair. The lesson of Christ. The disciples journey joyfully continues.

 

 

Palm Sunday

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File10Jesus the Christ entered Jerusalem so that my life might be better. Jesus, the Son of God, thought about me, and was concerned for me. For my salvation He entered that city, He was crucified, He died, and He was buried, and He was raised on the third day. This is the Passion of the Lord, and it was all for me. It was so that I might live my life to the fullest, and so that I might know my God. Through this Passion of Jesus, I gain everything, and it costs me nothing. It is a gift, from God, to me. It is the passion of my Lord, a saving grace, my salvation. It is a gift of eternal life. This week is not about me, it is not about what I have to do. It is about what was done for me, and it is about what has been freely given to me.

Every year , when I walk into His Church this day, I am given a palm frond which  I fashion into the cross. That cross reminds me of the events of five days later. Today starts with a jubilant procession into Jerusalem, and Good Fridays procession ends on a hilltop with a cross and a corpus. The corpus is that of Christ’s who died for me. For forty days I have been instructed to give something up. This Holy week I look at what was given up for me, so that I might truly live life to the fullest. This week is all about me, but it is nothing about what I can do or should do. It is about what has been done for me.

Saturday before Palm Sunday

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Writing has slowed down much over the past few weeks because simply many times one does not have much to say, or even one simply lacks the ability to put thoughts into words. Today’s readings, the readings before palm Sunday, describe God separating the chosen people from their sins and their surroundings. The gospel follows a similar theme. It describes those that went to Mary after hearing of her Son’s works, and those who went to the Pharisees for the same reason. It is a theme of separation, of separation from God and of Gods desire to be united with his people. It also speaks of the division of nations. The reason the Pharisees attack Jesus is out of the fear that He will destroy their nation.

My mind wanders at this point to the history of the ancient Hebrews, a band of nomads traveling through out the earthly kingdoms of their day, and a band of nomads who eventually become enslaved by one of those powerful earthly kingdoms. In reminiscing about the ancient Hebrews, I think first of the ancient kingdoms around them. The pharaohs and their pyramids, and all of the great architecture of the day. There is the gold and the idols those civilizations fashioned from them, there is their complicated and ritualized set of beliefs. There are their artistic, and scientific achievements, their is their culture, their armies, and the simple size of these many kingdoms of the region. Imagery of that time reveals a large, flourishing , and spectacular society of that time complete with the pageantry of royalty. Their kings and queens were their gods. Then there is the ancient Hebrew.

The ancient Hebrew, the traveling worker. Poor and without a kingdom, a servant. They are a small band of nomadic tribes traveling throughout all of those kingdoms of the Pharaohs and their like. With them is the first separation. They are travelers, and poor, and do not bow down to the kings and queens. As a chosen people their numbers are small, and their physical attributes are as unassuming as their numbers. They are people living in tents amongst those dwelling in castles. Poor, proud , joyful people of the covenant. Then they become enslaved.

In Egypt they slave to build an earthly kingdom that is not their own. If they were impoverished before, they are oppressed now. They are  a minority, looked down upon by  royalty, overworked and under fed. Again they are separated, though this time they are imprisoned. In their enslavement  I can see the violence committed against them, and I  wonder  about their thoughts  regarding their oppressor. The good news is they gain  freedom from their captors under the leadership of Moses. The bad news is that they bear the  scars of enslavement and oppression. Those scars can become inflamed, and infected, and lead to the death of sin if left unattended. Those ancient Hebrews might have  separated from their captors, but now they carry the baggage of that captivity. They are separated, but not truly free. I wonder how many  people are stuck in this phase of a journey?

Journey now to tomorrows celebration, palm Sunday where Christ is hailed as the majesty of a new kingdom. His entry is into Jerusalem, the seat of the kingdom founded under the guidance of Moses. It is the seat of a kingdom promised when those Hebrews were led from Egypt, a kingdom of their own; but how much of that new kingdom contained the scars carried from Egypt? Certainly the people were delivered from a land of slavery, but did they really enter into the peace, and fullness of Gods promise? How easy is it for them, the ancient Hebrew, to forget oppression? How easy is it for an oppressed people today to do the same? There are a lot of people wandering about today carrying burdens of oppression and mistreatment; how easy is it for them, or for anyone, to let go of burdens tossed upon us? As Jesus enters into that city, his disciples see Him as leading them into their new kingdom just as Moses did for the generations before. How many though are willing to follow the Christ into that new kingdom, and leave their baggage and burdens behind?