by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
Today we have the reading of the entire passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus — quite a long Gospel this year according to St. Luke, so I have no intention of preaching at length, but there’s just a couple of things about this Gospel lesson in preparation of our procession with the palms. But, also, as we listen to the long Gospel of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, there are points that I hope we will spend this week reflecting on, bringing about deep transformation in our minds, our hearts, our attitude, and our way of acting.
It starts with this procession with palms. We do a little bit of theater, in a sense. Jesus did this journey into Jerusalem, the crowds gathered, and just spontaneously it was a march and a decoration of Jesus as king. So we reenact that. We bless the palms and then we have our procession around the church singing, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” As this Gospel for the procession points out, Jesus developed a kind of theater himself for the procession.
They had many times wanted to make Jesus king and he always rejected it. He simply would not be a king because they understood the king to be one with power, one who led people in war, one who dominated and ruled, and oppressed often. Jesus was not going to accept that role. Yet, here at this point when the crowds had got so large and were so insistent, he went along with their desires to go into Jerusalem being hailed, “Hosanna to the king,” this prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.
But notice what he does with his staging of how he’s going to enter into Jerusalem as their king. In Matthew’s Gospel, Matthew points out that he is fulfilling a prophecy from the prophet Zechariah. Matthew just quotes a part of it, but listen to what the prophecy is, “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem for your king is coming just and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt. No more chariots in Ephraim. No more horses in Jerusalem for he will do away with them. The warrior’s bow shall be broken when he dictates peace to the nation. He will reign from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth.”...