The entry into the Holy City is triumphant, the crowds who have heard about Jesus are shouting “Hosanna in the highest” and waving palms and laying clothing down before His path. Yet as we witnessed throughout Jesus’ public ministry, His detractors and jealous enemies will sway these same people and turn them against Him. What begins with triumphant excitement changes to suffering and death. The passion of Jesus will be ultimately transformed into the Resurrection of the Christ.
The idea of the triumphant entry of Jesus is in stark contrast to Jesus hanging on the cross. When we truly consider Jesus, there was nothing triumphant in His human nature. Jesus was the Messiah, but He was a suffering Messiah as foreshadowed in the prophet Isaiah: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” The style of Jesus was self emptying, a giving of oneself in totality. Paul’s letter to the Philippians describes Jesus in this radical self emptying: “taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Jesus revealed the mercy and compassion of God in a new way. And the approach Jesus took was simple. In humility Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding a donkey. The triumphant arrival of a powerful king would be with horse and chariot with legions of military personnel. Jesus on the other hand limps into the Holy City slowly riding a donkey. The meaning of the word triumphant is transformed just as death is transformed by Jesus’ Resurrection.
Almighty God, as we begin Holy Week, empower us to enter into these sacred events that transform death to new life. Transform our own suffering and hardships so that we may celebrate Easter with joyful and grateful hearts. Amen.
Fr. Brian Cummings, S.S.E. ’86, Director of Edmundite Campus Ministry
Procession Gospel: Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Mark 14:1—15:47 or 15:1-39
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website