Sunday, April 09, 2006
Palm Sunday: Following the crowd  

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week for Latin Rite Roman Catholics. It begins with Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion. At the beginning of today's liturgy, there is a special procession into Mass that includes readings from Scripture which recount our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. In the liturgy, we recite the words which were cried out when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a path covered by palm branches and the cloaks of the people:

Hosanna to the Son of David,
the King of Israel.
Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

The palm branches we receive help us to place ourselves back in the first century. I can imagine being an onlooker who rushes over to see what is happening. As I push through the crowd, I begin to catch glimpses of the procession. I can hear what sounds to be the singing of one of the messianic psalms. This is incredible. Who, I wonder, is coming into Jerusalem. It certainly is not a Roman because the people would not be excited. And they would not be singing. I cannot go any farther because of the swarm of people so I stop to ask those around me. One man says it is that prophet we have been hearing about. Another questions if it is indeed the Galilean. Finally, a third man confirms that it is Jesus of Nazareth. He is riding into Jerusalem on a colt and the people are throwing down their cloaks before him. Others are ripping off branches from the nearby trees to scatter before him in the path.

The crowd moves as a unit as people try to draw closer to Jesus. Through the heads and shoulders I can see part of the procession. I strain to get a better view. Wait, there he is. Just as the man said, I can see that he surely is riding into Jerusalem. How can he do that? All kinds of thoughts rush into my head, as I try to figure out what is happening. Surely the Romans will do something? This might strike them as an act of rebellion. After all, the only people who ride into Jerusalem like this are their cruel generals and their wicked politicians. If the Romans won't do anything, what will the Pharisees and Saducees think? They have been downplaying this prophet and claiming that he is crazed man who is only going to arouse the anger of the Romans. This just might be too much for them. He almost seems to be doing this just for this reason. His followers might think he is the messiah, but now they have this crowd believing it too.

As the crowd continues to follow the procession, some of the temple guard come out to disperse the crowd. It looks as if the Pharisees and Saducees alerted them to what was happening. Some of the crowd continues to follow the procession into Jerusalem to find out what will come of all of this. Others, once they see the temple guards, are not so brave and they decide it would be best for them to go about their business. If this is a revolutionary movement, I decide I need to keep some distance in case the Romans do get involved. In my caution, I follow a group of people who look curious, but who do not strike me as the type who are ready to take up arms against the Romans. All the same, I keep my thoughts to myself while maintaining what I think is a safe distance between the main part of the procession and me.

Posted by David at 11:59 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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