In Jesus’ day, palms were carried in joyful, triumphant processions by Jews and Romans alike. Roman soldiers, returning from a successful conquest, would wave palms as they returned home to their welcome. Jews used palm adornments for their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to the Festival of Tabernacles. And palm decorations were carved in stone within the Temple. Palms symbolized an oasis in the desert, victory in public games and in conquests, and a sign of blessing and homage.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem replicates how the Roman Emperor and his emissaries would enter the city: on a roadway strewn with palms, and with the crowds waving palms, shouting their praise. The crowds welcoming Jesus are shouting, “Hosanna,” which, in Hebrew, means “savior.” “Savior” is the very title already claimed by the Roman Emperor. The Roman Emperor’s titles included the “Savior of the World,” and “Son of God,” and “Lord of Lords.”[i] That’s the Roman Emperor. Unlike the Emperor and his party, whose processional entry would be on magnificent Persian stallions, Jesus is on a donkey.
Here we kneel at the tomb once more, watching, waiting, numb, and grieving. We stare at love embodied and remember love received. Our song is love unknown, our Savior’s love—to you, to me—love to the loveless shown that we might lovely be.[i]
Love shown to children. “Let the little ones come to me. Do not stop them.”[ii] Listen to the kids and follow them that we might lovely be.
Love shown to blind Bartimaeus who cried out for mercy. Jesus turned, invited, and healed that we might lovely be.[iii]
Love shown to the palm-waving crowd who sang “hosanna.” Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey not a stallion, leading with humility that we might lovely be.[iv]
Love shown to the woman who returned to anoint Jesus with costly ointment. Jesus welcomed and honored her that we might lovely be.
Love shown resisting violence. Jesus said: “No more of this” and healed the one his followers struck that we might lovely be.[v]
It is hard to believe that a week from tomorrow marks one year since my brothers Curtis, John, Luke, and I embarked on a journey to the Holy Land to lead a pilgrimage. Each of us brothers prepared two reflections to give at designated sites during our two week journey. I was assigned to give my first meditation at ‘The Shepherd’s Field,’ in the countryside just outside of Bethlehem where tradition says the shepherds would have encountered the great angelic hosts proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ birth. My second meditation I gave at the teardrop-shaped church on the Mount of Olives called ‘Dominus Flevit,’ which is Latin for “The Lord wept.” It was here that I could begin to piece together in my mind the scene we celebrated at the beginning of this morning’s liturgy.
It is the supreme mystery of our Christian faith we are about to witness this week. Make no mistake about it. The events of Holy Week and Easter are not merely annual reenactments of the tragic events of the life of an important historical personage. This is spiritual mystery on its deepest and most cosmic scale. – Br. Eldridge Pendleton, SSJE (1940-2015)
On Palm Sunday, we begin the journey to Calvary that we will live out across the next week. We are invited to join the crowd in shouting "Hosanna" and "Crucify." And we are invited to accompany our Lord in the dramatic events of his final days.
How will you journey alongside Jesus this week?
"Lovely Be" – Br. Luke Ditewig
On Palm Sunday, Br. Luke Ditewig sings a song of love unknown, our Savior’s love—to you, to me.
"Exceeding Expectations" – Br. Jim Woodrum
The story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem invites us to investigate our own expectations as a way of drawing into a deeper understanding of God.
"Why?" – Br. David Vyrhof
Why must God’s Servant enter into the darkest rhythms of the human condition? Perhaps it’s the only way they can be challenged and undone, once and for all.
"Singing Hosanna, Screaming Crucify" – Br. James Koester
Palm Sunday is a chance to discover once more all that is within us, both light and dark, both good and evil.
"Steal Away" – Br. Tom Shaw
Letting the power of Jesus' humility, self-sacrifice, and surrender soak into us during Holy Week gives us the power to stand on the edge of glory every day.
"The Weight of the Cross" – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
On Palm Sunday, we embrace both the weight of the cross and the wealth of its love.
To listen to the reading of the Passion According to Saint Luke, click here or on the player above. The Passion is read by Seth Woody and Waylon Whitley, two of the Monastery interns.
What is it that makes you vulnerable? In our lifetimes, we don’t lose our spiritual vulnerability. We wouldn’t want to lose it. How we come to know God, how God breaks through to us, is probably through something that is broken in our lives.
– Br. Curtis Almquist
Society of Saint John the Evangelist
Video not displaying? Click here to view: http://youtu.be/0IICHyeFetM
Question for Reflection:
How will you share your vulnerability with Jesus today?