“The Messiah Received”
March 20, 2016
Palm Sunday is a day of contrasts. First we have jubilation and exaltation, people magnifying Jesus in extreme ways. Imagine, placing your cloak on the road for His colt to trod upon! Who would want to wear that garment after such abuse? Can you imagine the denuded greenery on the road from the Mount of Olives to the Temple after it had been stripped of its branches, just that they may be waved by the people as a sign of regal triumph?
But within fifteen minutes of reliving this event, we read of the object of such tribute and honor becoming the object of something much more humiliating: arrest, torture, conviction, and a most gruesome form of capital punishment; none of it merited. None of it deserved. But all of it received without a word of protest, and nary a word of defense.
Faced with these conflicting narratives, our first instinct is to divide these two events, place them in separate compartments, on separate days. After all, they did happen on different days. So we celebrate Palm Sunday on Sunday, then wait a few days to commemorate Christ’s Passion. There, problem solved. Happy day, then tragic days.
Except they happened on different days, but during the same Holy Week. Both events were part of one plan of God. Palm Sunday is a part of the Passion of Christ. To separate them is to miss a part of the message.
Palm Sunday exists not only to teach us that Christ was the Messiah, the King of the Jews.
It shows us that He was accepted as such by many of them. It reminds us of our culpability in the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The same lips that proclaimed “Blessed is the King that comes in the Name of the Lord!” also cried out “We have no king but Caesar!” As such, we must always see these cries combined, along with the confession of St. Thomas upon seeing the risen Christ, “My Lord and My God!” These three utterances reflect the story of man: union with God, then the fall into disbelief, then reconciliation through Christ. In other words, the story of Genesis chapters two and three are reflected in the stories of Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday/Holy Saturday. Today let us celebrate them together, and receive the fullness of joy that comes on Easter Sunday!