In one breath, we call today Palm Sunday – a time when we join in the contagious spirit of the spontaneous, disorganized crowd that welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem.
In another breath, we call today Passion Sunday, for we remember Jesus’ anguish. Abandoned by his friends, rejected by the people, he died the death of a criminal.
This day pulls us in two directions. We hope against reason that Jesus (and we for that matter) can win approval for His vision without suffering for it and we are touched deeply by his rejection.
Much of our life is pulled in two directions. It’s spent somewhere between triumph and tragedy. In order not to be swayed unduly by our own triumphs or overwhelmed by our own tragedies, we need to learn from Jesus this week. As Paul tells us, we need to make Jesus’ attitude our own (Philippians 2.5).
In Jesus, the crowd expected the long-awaited savior who would bring back Israel’s political and economic glory.
The people’s expectations were mirrored in those of the disciples. They had hoped that Jesus’ victory was imminent. The high expectations of the disciples and the crowd would plummet into despair in the next few days. Most would abandon Jesus, betray Him, be indifferent to Him.
And what of Jesus? What did he expect as He viewed the people from the colt’s back or later from the cross? He expected the faithfulness of God – His Abba. Though Jesus did not know what lay before Him from moment to moment, he was confident that God would see Him through and it was this expectation that would see Him through.
The disciples and the crowd expected triumph to come on the heels of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. It didn’t happen. They expected nothing more after Jesus’ death on the cross. But triumph surprisingly came – life breaking through death.
You and I as followers of the Risen Lord, see Holy Week washed in the light of Easter. Easter celebrates Jesus risen to new life. Easter means that life is to be transformed, never to be snuffed out.
And because we know this, believe this, our own expectations about life and death can be altered.
The stark contrast between the true and ardent Christian and those obsessed by what the world has to offer is highlighted this week. The world tells us to expect to have more, to have better, to be beautiful and successful. It tells us to hoard all we own and own all we can.
But Jesus tells us by His actions that, in the midst of suffering, contradiction and loneliness, we can expect the faithfulness of God and ultimately salvation, joy and the transformation of life. Let us attend to Him this week and make his attitude our own, the attitude that trusts God through the bleakest of times.
~Sister Joan Sobala