Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year B
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 (2a)
March 25, 2018
We have two gospel readings today which show two very different responses to Jesus.
In our gospel at the beginning of Mass for the blessing of the palms we see the people in Jerusalem offer Jesus a royal welcome. We see it in the way they “spread their cloaks on the road” while others “spread leafy branches.” They cried out “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Clearly, they recognize Jesus as the Messiah!
Or do they?
They clearly give Jesus a royal welcome but do they really seem as the Messiah he is meant to be?
I ask because within just a few days of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem we see the people treating Jesus in a very different way.
In our Passion reading, Jesus is no longer given a royal welcome. If fact, “the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.”
We should not be surprised at what the chief priests and scribes were plotting because this is not the first time the gospels tell us of those who plot against Jesus.
But now it is even worse!
He is betrayed! And not by one of the chief priests or scribes but by Judas Iscariot who was one of the Twelve Apostles. Can you imagine being in Jesus’ place knowing that one of your closest companions is going to betray you and to do so with a kiss, turning what is normally a sign of affection into a sign of betrayal?
Judas was willing to do this for money. What is your price to sell out Jesus? A thousand dollars? A million? A billion? What about a promotion? What about playing on a sports team? A round of golf? The chance to sleep in?
Of course, Judas is not the only one who turns against Jesus. There are those who will mock him as a “king” because they don’t understand that his kingdom is not of this world.
There are those who will strip him of his garments to humiliate him and scourge him. There is the crowd that is overcome with a “mob mentality” and repeatedly call for him to be crucified.
Even his own Apostles scattered when Jesus, the shepherd is struck. Peter himself, while watching from afar will deny Jesus three times.
Mind you what Jesus goes through himself is awful. Even Jesus himself cries out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” but his disciples flee long before that. They flee as soon as Jesus is arrested.
While what Jesus went through Jesus was awful, it is essential to know what Jesus did for us. This year we are reading mainly from Mark’s Gospel on Sundays. Mark’s is the shortest of the gospels but when it comes to the telling of Jesus’ Passion, Mark slows down and includes all the details for this is the hour when we truly discover who Jesus is for us. As Jesus dies on the Cross, even the Gentile centurion recognizes Jesus as he says, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”
There is a price to be paid for our sins and Jesus has paid the bill. His life was not taken from him, he freely handed it over for us.
What are you willing to do for Jesus? Will you make time for Jesus during this Holy Week? Will you “keep watch for one hour?”
Or will you betray Jesus? What would be your price?
Throughout our Lenten season, we are called to give something up as a sacrifice for Jesus. As Jesus sacrificed his life, what have you sacrificed?
Jesus received a royal welcome entering Jerusalem. Do you welcome him into your life?
Jesus handed his life over for you. Are you willing to hand your life over to Jesus?