Reflection for the Vigil of Palm Sunday 2013

by Constance Krstolic, OSB
March 23, 2013 

Readings: Zechariah 9:9-10 and Luke 19:28-40

Jesus entered Jerusalem as if a king coming home, riding a donkey, a symbol of peacefulness not of meekness as Zechariah records. Within a week He was dead. What went wrong? Politics? Religion? Lack of foresight No, none of the above. Nothing went wrong. Nothing at all.

This evening we heard about the people of Jerusalem welcoming Jesus. Many of them have come from great distances and some from the area.

Perhaps, they are curiosity seekers. They probably never dreamt that their curiosity concerning Him was about to explode into a faith dimension  that would last throughout the centuries.

For all of them, these days have been like a roller coaster ride. There have been the miracles and then there have been the mentioning of harsher things to come. Jesus, himself, has hinted about His final days.  There have been people expressing their needs and wants to Jesus.

The excitement is building! Jesus is coming! The sounds of the crowd turn into a movement, a dance of expectation! Jesus is coming and you and I continue in our musings to be one of the silent witnesses of the moment, in the crowd. We’ve been there many times before. We were in Jericho when Jesus came and cured Bartemaeus. We were in that crowd who told Bartemaeus that he was making a spectacle of himself, to be quiet. And yet he shouted even louder: "Jesus son of David have pity on me." And then Jesus turned toward us and told us to call him over. We were there when Jesus asked him ‘What do you want me to do for you?" ...and we secretly hoped that we, too, were going to be asked this question! We were at that wedding feast wanting more wine when Mary told Jesus that the young couple needed more wine. We stood there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and told us to touch and untie him! We were there in the crowd pushing & shoving with the woman who touched His garment. Power went forth from Him and we witnessed her healing. These memories and others flood our minds as we anticipate His coming into town.

This Jesus is coming...the miracle worker, the healer, the restorer to life, the ultimate care giver of the poor, the downtrodden, the sinner, the outcast and women. Jesus, the loving questioner….always asking the probing questions: what are you looking for? (John 1:35-39); Why are you so disturbed?  (Luke 24:36-49); If the smallest things are beyond your power, why be anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:22-31); Do you want to be healed? John 5:1-15);  Do you understand what I just did to you? (John 13:1-17)

He was always teaching us about servanthood, always inviting us to actively take part in His journey to Jerusalem.

As Jesus entered the town, the conglomeration of people who lined the streets covered the road with their cloaks, the most expensive items they owned. They gave it all to ready His way. Remember, we are there in the crowd watching it all enfold...wondering if we are free enough to throw everything we have in front of Him, to give everything we have to Him? We wonder what in reality would that really entail? Our positions? Our health? Our possessions? Our wants? Our securities? How strong is the temptation to cling to those things that possess u as we journey with Him to Jerusalem? What are those things? How heavy are they to carry? What gets in our way of surrendering ourselves to Him? The excitement of the moment calls us to let go of that to which we cling so that we can receive from Him the greatest gift: His love. Our hearts cry out: “Take from us, from me, whatever keeps us from being one with You, take it quickly, gently.” Let it be this that you take that readies your way

Little did we realize, though, of what the week would hold....something is amiss...Within a week He was dead!  What went wrong? Nothing went wrong. Nothing at all. Everything was put right!

We, the members of this fickle crowd of believers, will be present as this roller coaster crests on Holy Thursday and crashes on Good Friday only to rise beyond expectation on Easter!  The story, we know well. The celebration is basically the same every year….as is the food...the wine…. the busyness of the week.

But this time around, do we dare, would we really dare, to slow our pace so that we hear and respond to His invitation to change the direction of our lives?

In the midst of the busyness of celebrating , may we listen and receive His words of encouragement, compassion, challenge and love for us in a world filled full of violence and turmoil and then give God our permission to put things right and to use us in whatever way God chooses to build up those around us, to rub shoulders with those who are in most need of His presence…..the poor, the downtrodden, outcasts, the sinners and all women….the women here in our community.

Look around the crowd gathered tomorrow as we begin our procession to the chapel. Let no one walk alone for the journey does make us one!