Today is Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. And it is a special Sunday in the church year because we actually get two readings from the Gospels. At the very beginning, right before we processed in, we read the story from the Gospel of Mark about Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The crowds were excited to greet him. They put their cloaks down on the ground in front of him. They spread leafy branches, and they cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!”
Then we just read the very long passion from the gospel of Mark which picks up the story in the middle of the night from Thursday into Friday. And the tone of the story is completely different from Palm Sunday. Even among his disciples, people are bickering, people are nervous, people are weak; they begin to abandon Jesus in his hour of need. One of them hands him over to the Jewish authorities for a show trial, and the passion is fully under way. It will culminate in his death on a cross and his burial in a tomb.
The juxtaposition of these two gospel stories reminds us how unsteady is the popular sentiment. The crowd loved him on Sunday, and they shouted “crucify him” on Friday.
Today we see in the readings the stark contrast between the fickleness of the crowd’s heart and the firmness of Jesus’s will to do what his father asked him to do. Though the crowd loves him on Sunday and hates him on Friday, Jesus is still Jesus through it all. He has the strength not to be attached to the adulation on Palm Sunday, and he has the strength not to give up through the pain of Good Friday. What is it that he has that gives him such strength?Continue reading “The Passion is a Great Act of Love”