Blog/CYM Blog

Passion Sunday: Behold Your King!

“A great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’ And Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it; as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him… The Pharisees then said to one another, ‘You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him.’”
John 12:12-16, 19

It’s Holy Week! Everything that was done or said throughout history and Scripture has led to this moment, this week. We are able to walk alongside Our Lord as He marches toward His tragic death at the hands of those He has come to save, and His victorious resurrection from the grave, opening the doors to heaven and eternal life.

For us, Catholics, this first day of Holy Week is marked by the longest readings of the year where we meditate on the events leading up to Jesus’ Passion and death beginning with his entry into Jerusalem. This is an introduction to the drama that is about to play out. We as a community are to join the hundreds of people who entered Jerusalem with Jesus as they joyfully proclaim, “Hosanna to the Son of David”. We are meant to listen and meditate on Jesus’ teachings and parables this week. We enter with Him into the Upper Room for the Last Supper, walk the lonely road to Calvary, and lie in wait with the apostles as they huddle together after Jesus’ burial.

For many of us, Palm Sunday has become just another part of the routine. We show up to Mass, grab the palms, fold them into crosses instead of listening to the homily, and head home secure in the knowledge that Lent will be over soon. We let the Passion narrative pass us by, overlooking the profound and beautiful mystery that we are invited to enter.

Holy week begins as Jesus enters Jerusalem, seated upon a donkey and surrounded by enthusiastic men and women proclaiming Him as the long-awaited king, the Messiah, heir to David’s throne. He enters in such a way, calling to mind what the prophet Zechariah said centuries prior, “Rejoice, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, Meek and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass” (Zec 9:9). He doesn’t enter the city on a horse or other animal, as one preparing for war or conquest. He enters meekly and softly, in a way that signifies peace and professes His royal personage.

As He travels, people lay palm branches and cloaks on the ground before Him, paying deference and homage to this humble king who is returning to fill the long vacant throne of Israel and finally reconcile the chosen people with a Father they don’t know or understand. Little did these people know what would occur in a week’s time. Some would be absent as this Jesus was declared a heretic and sentenced to death. Some of them may have watched or even joined in the mocking as He picked up his cross. For now, they celebrate Jesus as King and find joy and comfort in the presence of their Savior. They are unprepared for the depths of sorrow they would soon encounter, and oblivious to the glory that would be made manifest by this carpenter from Nazareth.

So, as we enter into holy week today, let’s do so with one eye on everything that has lead to this moment and the other on the victory that is to come. Let us raise our voices and declare Jesus as King, and teach our teens and parishes to do the same. Let us be praying for the wherewithal to endure this week with Jesus, to walk with Him experiencing His joys and sorrows. Let us suffer and pray well with the knowledge that as we press on toward the tomb with Jesus, we also prepare to be resurrected and remade.

Let’s make this holy week one that we will not soon forget.

About the Author

Perry Rihl

I love Thai food, old books, and stupid puns. I'm married to a beautiful, patient, and holy woman and I live and work as a youth minister in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. God allows me to lead worship and retreats all over the place and you can follow me on Twitter @dprihl.

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