We are going to Jerusalem

Sister Thomasita Homan, OSB | 13 April, 2017

Last Sunday, we began our journey with Jesus to his death and resurrection when he entered Jerusalem. We, too, are going to Jerusalem. All of us. We’ll crowd into the throngs of people stretching and pushing as we try to fix our gaze. Who is this entering our city? We stand focused on this person, not just Palm Sunday, but for a week and more. Maybe a lifetime, if our faith is strong. Why? We seem to sense that something very different is happening, and we want to be part of it.

Jerusalem — so much is written of Jerusalem. “(A)lways Jerusalem at risk … always Jerusalem on its way rejoicing,” writes Walter Brueggeman. He suggests that beloved Jerusalem, the holy city, could be every city in the world that “replicates its problems and promises.” Jerusalem could be a city in Syria, in Germany, in Pakistan, in Mexico, in the United States. Jerusalem could be Atchison. All of us now gathered, gazing, wondering. Who is this entering? How are we part of it?

The prophet Zachariah beckons us to “Rejoice greatly” to “Shout aloud,” because our king is coming to bring peace. Verses 9-10, the heart of Chapter 9, emphasize that our triumphant and humble king, riding on an ass, is “a just savior” who will do away with weapons of war and bring peace “from the River to the ends of the earth.” How will we be peace-makers?

In Matthew 21, we see it happen: Jesus enters Jerusalem as large crowds before and behind him shout loud Hosannahs (which means “Save us!” or “Save now!”). Many spread their cloaks on the road and wave palm and olive branches. The whole city trembles in turmoil, like an earthquake. We are a part of it. We hear the crowd asking, “Who is this entering our city?”

Others in the crowd respond, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Yes, our God is among us. How might we come to a deeper recognition of Jesus, recognition of God’s presence in everyone who enters our country, our city?

We wait in our Atchison-Jerusalem, at the intersection of time and eternity, reminded by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai that, “Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity.”

Elie Wiesel, writer and Holocaust survivor, reminds us: “One does not go to Jerusalem, one returns to it. That’s one of its mysteries.” This holy week, we live with hope and Hosannahs, as we return with full attention to this holy mystery leading us to God’s great sacrifice of love.

We have walked the Lenten journey, we are now ready for Easter. We can bless the fire, prepare the candle, and sing in full voice these lines from the Easter Proclamation: “… let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph! Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.”

Tonight is the night we read of God’s love in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We celebrate those who have gone before us with the Litany of the Saints, we baptize new members and we renew our own baptisms. We pray in the vigil, “Lord our God, in your mercy be present to your people who keep vigil on this most sacred night, and, for us who recall the wondrous work of our creation …”

We celebrate it all in the holy Easter vigil. God’s love is right here with us in Atchison-Jerusalem. God’s circle of love continues. Here. Now.

Then Easter dawns, and we sing with the psalmist, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad” (Psalms 118:24). Alleluia!