Procession and Blessing of Palm Branches: Luke 19: 28-40
Reading I: Isaiah 50: 4-7
Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Reading II: Philippians 2: 6-11
Gospel: Luke 22:14-23:56
“It’s Time, and the Stones Will Cry Out”
We have journeyed through Lent and are entering the profound days of Holy Week. These weeks since palm ashes marked upon us with a cross have invited us to name our deepest longings and to create spaces for further encounters with God – and one another and all creation.
Perhaps we have noticed spaces where our true hungers cannot be met by food, busyness, work or social media distractions. We invite God into those spaces. This past week we may have watched as Pope Francis met several times with the indigenous peoples from Canada and on Friday offered an unequivocal apology for the suffering the Catholic Church inflicted upon the people in not honoring their cultures and worse. God, already in the midst of spaces of sorrow and encounter, desires to heal. As we have viewed scenes of suffering in Ukraine, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar – add all the realities that touch you – we have seen violence by many names inflicting untold and undeniable trauma upon children, families, the entire people of God and all creation. We know God is present in those spaces and it is ours as people of faith to ask – what is our call in this?
We have journeyed through Lent with Jesus as he walks, listens, heals, feeds, teaches the multitudes and goes off with a few up on a mountain to pray. Jesus knows that going on to Jerusalem would be dangerous (prophets die), and he chooses to continue on that road, embodying the love of the Reign of God. He knows who he is.
As we stand with our fresh palms and hear Luke 19: 28-40 proclaimed, Jesus’ identity is clear. He knows whose he is. Jesus walking near Bethany (v 29) evokes memories of the location where John the Baptist baptized people, (John 1:28), the place where in the synoptic gospels we hear of God naming and claiming Jesus as Son with whom he is well pleased. Bethany is also where Jesus’ friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus lived. God’s beloved lived his call day by day and in ever widening circles of relationship. Love that knew no bounds finally arrived in Jerusalem, where the “whole multitude of disciples” cried out in praise to God for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They called him king. This was an expectant crowd!
And Jesus the king came on a donkey, not a chariot. Even so, some of the Pharisees in the crowd asked him to rebuke his disciples. However, the Truth of who he was could not be held back, and he knew that even if people were to be silenced, the rest of creation would cry out.
It was time.
What this ‘time’ would demand is found in the Passion proclaimed in Luke 23:1-49. Take time with the passage this week. Allow yourself to journey with Jesus, remembering where he came from and where he is going. Let yourself accompany Jesus.
He entered into human suffering and touched it and still offered healing that could only come from Love. Goodness was not diminished by death, no matter how gruesome. And the story does not end there, for him or for us. Yes, we are people who know Good Friday – experiencing it personally or through compassionate accompaniment. We are also Easter people, people who denounce endless violence, who know that beyond these passages are words from the Risen Christ that offer us a peace even fuller than the necessary end to violence. It is the Risen Christ’s “my peace I give you.” We are a people who walk this Way together, in a synodal way, with the Spirit. Because of this, we can neither cease praying for a conversion of heart against violence, nor cease our work to transform the systems and structures that inflict suffering on any person, people or creation.
It is time. Alleluia beckons.
Invitation to Reflection:
- What lines from scripture invite you to stay with them during this Holy Week?
- What has this Lenten season opened up for you to live further into in Easter?
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Director, Center for the Study of Consecrated Life