Thursday, 26 March 2015


Palm Sunday –what a mass of contradictions! It begins with a joyful procession of pilgrims. They have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. That feast commemorated God delivering His people from slavery in Egypt. In each annual celebration God renewed His commitment to rescue His people from evil, and they renewed their commitment to be faithful to Him.
In one such group of pilgrims the crowd proclaims Jesus to be the son of David, who has come in the name of the Lord. He, they realised, was the promised Messiah who triumphantly enters the city of God to claim His kingdom. In his honour the crowds strewed His path with their cloaks and with branches. What a joyful, exciting occasion!
But then, what a contrast in the Passion narrative! Jesus would not be enthroned in majesty in the temple, but on the cross. On His entry into the Holy city He had been joyfully, triumphantly, celebrated as the Messianic king. On His journey out of the city He was condemned as a criminal, carrying the cross on which He would be executed.
He, who had so recently been exalted, was now despised and rejected. Christ’s closest supporters, His disciples, had deserted Him. Their leader, Peter, had thrice disowned Him. The crowd, which had enthusiastically proclaimed Jesus as king, had turned against Him. True, they, with the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman soldiers all called Jesus, ‘King.’ But now that title was given in mockery, and not as sign of loyal allegiance.
And yet, they were all so right in calling Jesus ‘King,’ all so wrong in their understanding the nature of His sovereignty. While the Jews had hoped for a leader who would deliver them from Roman occupation, Jesus had come to free the whole world from a far greater tyranny –that of sin and death.
His weapons were not military strength and force of arms, but the power of His love. His kingdom was not territorial, but in our hearts. Far from being a defeated failure, nailed helplessly to the cross, it was there, on the cross, that Jesus was enthroned and defeated all the forces of evil arraigned against him.
As we begin Holy Week we are called to travel with Jesus. With the pilgrims waving their palms, we are called joyfully to welcome Jesus as the promised Messiah. As we do so, we must recognise that His kingdom is very different from any other. His is a kingdom of love, justice, peace and truth.
If we are to enter that kingdom and share in Christ’s victory we must follow Christ on the Way of the Cross, to the glory of the resurrection. That means we must die with Him to sin, if we are to rise with Him to share in His victory over sin and death. Only then will we really welcome Christ as our king. Only then will we be His true subjects.
I do hope that you will enter the spirit of Holy Week by coming to its services.
Isidore Clarke O.P.

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