We are standing at the threshold of Holy Week with our celebration of Palm Sunday tomorrow. What does Palm Sunday celebration mean to us? What lessons can we derive from it? Every one of us will have different insights and reflections about this important event in our Lord's life. Jesus definitely was fully aware of the implication of this event. He was fully aware of the prophecy foretold by the prophet Zechariah:
"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9). But this glorious entry would have a tragic ending. Later on in the synoptic Gospels the "Hosanna, Hosanna" would change to "crucify him, crucify him."
How fleeting and changeable human praises are! One moment they acclaim you, and then the next , they deny you. This is a wonderful eye-opener for me in keeping my feet on the ground. I realize how easy it is for someone to change their opinion of you. Saint Teresa has this saying I love to repeat to myself: "Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you. All things are passing, God never changes." When praises are given us, receive them with gratitude, but I would not set my heart on them because they can easily change color. Remember when Jesus was praised by the people for the miracles he had performed? St. John the Apostle wrote this line:
"But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men." (John 2:24)
The entry to Jerusalem is also an invitation to courageous embrace of the cross, not to run way from what needs to be done. Jesus, even though aware of what awaited him in Jerusalem, went anyway to fulfill what He was sent to do.
"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this
very reason I came to this hour. " (John 12:27)
Palm Sunday also teaches me that there can be glory in seeming defeat and victory in death. Our Lord seemed to have died a horrible, unnecessary death, in the eyes of men. But his was the most beautiful death ever in the eyes of God. His death did not immediately change hearts but when it finally did, it changed the world.
"Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." (John 12:23-26)
May God grant us all the grace to enter ever deeply into the meaning of Our Lord's sacrifice this Holy Week.