Reflections for Palm Sunday
In the two gospel readings for this Palm Sunday, we can see a pattern of welcoming followed by rejection, of acceptance followed by betrayal.
When our Lord Jesus made His triumphal entry into the holy city of Jerusalem, the crowd welcomed Him with great rejoicing. They gave him a red carpet reception by putting their cloaks on the street for Jesus riding on a donkey, waiving palms and branches and acclaiming/praising Him with loud cries of “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest.”
But who would ever think that the very same crowd which gave Him such enthusiastic welcome would cry out just a few days later “Crucify him, crucify him!” and choose a thief and criminal over Him -- over Him who cured their sick, raised some of their dead, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, and fed them not only with bread and fish but also revealed to them who God the Father was and how to go Him.
Even his closest disciples, who were handpicked to be “fishers of men” - privileged to be most intimate with Him, dining with Him, and some chosen to have a glimpse of the glory of His transfiguration on the mountain, privileged to receive their first Holy Communion from His own hands at the first Mass in the Upper Room and their feet washed by their Master also deserted Him when a mob took Him away “like a lamb led to the slaughter.”
One betrayed Him and sold Him to the religious authorities for the price of a slave.
One of them, the first among the chosen 12, even angrily denied knowing Him 3 times when he was identified by a mere servant girl while His Master was on trial and being punished, insulted and mocked.
And while He was carrying the cross in pain and then brutally nailed to it, not one was visible. When He hung there in agony for three hours only one of them was present. All the rest abandoned Him.
My dear brothers and sisters, we are probably wondering why all these people who welcomed Him enthusiastically rejected Him after only four short days. We can probably criticize them or look down on them until we realize that we are like those people when we both welcome and reject Jesus at certain moments in our lives.
For as Christians, we do welcome Jesus in our hearts but we also often face making a choice: people and things and ourselves on one hand, and our Lord Jesus on the other. When we choose people and things and ourselves over Christ, we are in effect rejecting him.
In the culture where we live, there is a constant pressure to reject the Lord. God has been effectively removed from our public classrooms, and believers in Him are disrespected in institutions of higher learning.
Legislators have even made laws contrary to the eternal laws of God, such as in matters respecting human life in the womb, and redefining marriage and the family. Now some public officials want to murder newly born babies.
If we split the Faith we profess and the lives we live, as many Catholic legislators do, we are in effect not welcoming Christ but rejecting Him.
And so we need to reflect deeply on who we are welcoming, whom we are rejecting.
It is the Lord of Lords who assumed all our sins that we are rejecting. It is the Lord who came to save us that we are rejecting.
And so this Holy Week let us turn again to Christ, confess our sins, and endeavor to always welcome Him in our hearts and in other people.
Let us put Christ in the Center of our hearts and of our families in our lives.
For at the end of our earthly journey and finally meet Christ face to face, He will either welcome us or reject us, depending on how we welcomed Him or rejected Him in our lives.#
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to welcome you always in our hearts and in our lives. If and when we reject you through sin, help us to come back you without delay. And may you welcome me in your heavenly kingdom at the end of our days. Amen.