We begin a new journey to the core of the zenith in our Lenten period: The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It was indeed a triumphant entry. The people sang his praises, women laid their clothes on the ground while he rode on a donkey and palm branches were waved at him with some singing. Although we call it Palm Sunday, the proper name should be Passion Sunday, the beginning of the Lord's passion to his death on the hill of Golgotha.
In the first reading, Isaiah says, "The Lord is my help; therefore, I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame." Jesus is about to suffer what the prophets predicted about the messiah, the holy one of Israel. The close friends of Jesus, who ate with him and enjoyed countless miracles from him, are about to betray him. But God did not forsake him.
Indeed, the Lord will be betrayed by his associates and the leaders of the temple, the very best of Israel will connive with the Roman authorities and have Jesus condemned to a shameful death. St. Paul in the second reading captures this in a vivid way, "Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, 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." This journey to Jerusalem is the final journey of Jesus to his death on the Cross; a fulfillment of the prophecy of old about the Son of Man destined to be betrayed and be put to death but on the third day he would rise.
As we listen to the long narrative from the gospel, we can clearly see how an innocent man is found guilty while a guilty man is freed. A criminal is given a clean bill of health to walk away scot-free, while Jesus who did so much good to his community is handed over to vicious men to be crucified. The symbol of Jesus' humility is the donkey, which he rode into Jerusalem. Kings generally are associated with horses, gold and many luxurious items. But Jesus, though a King chose to ride on a donkey, and he had no gold except his golden heart that he generously poured out to mankind.
Every Christian should learn a lesson today. When you face abandonment by a loved one or a friend, do not feel that's the end. In every disappointment there is a blessing. Jesus' friends ran away because they could not bear the humiliation, but God did not forsake him. Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" When friends throw you under the bus, God goes along with you because he knows how precious you are. Do you feel abandoned at this moment? Have you suffered pain in your heart? If you know the importance of love, then you can easily understand pain and betrayal. We love but we also hate. It is proportionate, but love is the greatest way to reach a heart. Jesus could not imagine that his dear ones would give him so much pain and even deny him. However, he conquered all this humiliation for all of us. The journey to his triumph
Passion Sunday begins Holy Week and we are called to remain prayerful and meditative about the great mystery of our salvation. Put yourself in Jesus' place and come along with him on his final journey as he entered Jerusalem. What kind of humiliation is more than this? I always feel like shedding tears during the ceremonies of this week. What a feeling I always have about Jesus giving his all for me! The pain of Jesus is our gain, because we can handle betrayal with the hope of a new day. What can you offer Jesus? Keep Praying!