March 26, 2021
In this transitional time between seasons, as the harshness of winter is left behind and the hope of spring begins to bloom, we have journeyed together from ashes to hope. So many faith traditions present us with an opportunity to journey within and assess who we really are at the center of our being where Divine Love abides. Acknowledging that Love, we then reflect on how we are mirroring it in our own lives and in our own environments.
For Christians, this season of Lent has been an intentional time of focusing on the Divine Love that we call Christ. In two days, those of us who call ourselves by the name Christian will remember Christ’s triumphant arrival into the city of Jerusalem, on the final stretch of his journey. We will wave our palm branches and shout “Hosanna,” welcoming Jesus during this final stretch of Lent we call “Holy Week.” We will visualize Jesus on that colt—not even a donkey or a horse—as the crowds lay their cloaks before him as if he were royalty, as if he were a king, as if he were “somebody.” The question for us is how well we have grown to know him these last six weeks.
Jesus understands one basic truth throughout this episode. No one knows who he is at all. There, in the midst of crowds, at the height of his popularity, scores of people packed around him, he is most isolated. No one knows who he is. No one.
Of course, like us, each person in the crowd believes he or she knows who Jesus is. Each person comes with his or her own label or expectation. To some in the crowd, Jesus is the next king, the Jewish Messiah who will topple the government of Rome and bring Jerusalem and all the country back under Israeli rule. . . . They are wrong. . . and so they will turn on him.
To others, even his own disciples, he is the greatest Rabbi ever, the greatest prophet since Elijah, whose instructions will straighten out corruption and set all things right. . . . They are wrong. . . and so they will betray or abandon him or flee from him.
Perhaps to others waving palms, Jesus is popular because he is the Great Magician who turned water into wine and walked on the sea and made a banquet out of a handful of bread and fish. They can’t wait to see what great feat he will accomplish next. . . . But, they are wrong. . . and so they taunt him and spit on him.
And to still others, this man riding on a colt—not even a donkey or a horse—is a mockery of who they are. He is a threat to their positions of power, greed, priesthood, privilege, and authority. He is out to displace them with his group of rebel-rousers . . . They, too, are wrong. . . and so they frame him.
Yes, on the day of Jesus’ so-called “triumph,” he will be well aware that no one really knows who he is—the sacrificial Passover Lamb, the one who has come to suffer in their place, not to usurp their places, the one who is both man and God, both terrified and resolute. Once the crowds begin to realize that Jesus’ intention is not to become King or the greatest rabbi or a famous magician, or even a rebel, they turn on him. Once they realize that he is nothing other than a suffering servant, useless to them, they back away, and the rustle of the wind through all those palm branches fades to silence. This grim reality is what Palm Sunday is about. The grand parade is a false and broken charade.
Having journeyed together in this blog the last several weeks, on the final stretch of our Lenten walk, do any of us know who Jesus is–or whoever our holy guide is–any better than we did the first Sunday of Lent, or last year at this time, or ten years ago? Do we know ourselves any better? Are we like some of those in the crowd, clutching the same set of labels and expectations for whatever name we call God that we have hauled around all our lives because we did not take the time to get to know him better this season, or we did not want to make the effort to know him, or we believe we have Jesus pegged? Or are we all simply play-acting? To know the Holy is to be transformed by the Holy. Palm Sunday is a tough day because it begs us to admit that all too often we are part of that crowd who one day shouts “Hosanna” and the next day betrays or abandons Jesus, or Yahweh, or Allah, or . . . . even our deepest selves.
So here Jesus will be, on a colt—not even a donkey or a horse–nodding his head at each one of us, catching our eye, seeing us as we really are, better than we can even see ourselves, and he knows where this road will lead in just a short while—to an excruciating and humiliating death on a cross. He knows some of us may one day understand the extent of his love and some of us won’t. He knows that some of us will want to continue following him and some of us won’t. He realizes that some of us will desire to know him even more deeply, and some of us won’t. He knows that some of us will be changed by the entire parade and the week that follows, and some of us won’t. And yet Jesus still rides on, on that silly colt, because the love he has is unconditional, and even if we do not know him, he knows us. And he understands. Blessings. ~ Rosemary