April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday – A


There has been a rather drastic change in our American society and elsewhere in the world in the last month or two.  Before that, the American economy was in good shape, with a low rate of unemployment.  Schools were in session, sporting and entertainment events were being held, and a lot of people were traveling.  Now the situation is very different, due mainly to the Coronavirus and attempts to counteract this virus and its effects.  The liturgy for Palm Sunday each year is one that has a great contrast between the triumphant arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem, with a great crowd to meet him, and a huge change several days later.  Suddenly, Jesus is put on trial and condemned to death by crucifixion, the crowd is now turned against him, and even most of his most loyal followers have fled.  What has gone wrong?


One cause of the change in the situation in Jerusalem was the fact that most people at the time, including his own disciples, had a rather shallow and incomplete belief in Jesus.  In the opening
Gospel today, the Gospel of St. Matthew says that when the crowd was asked, “Who is this?”, the crowd answered, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”  Through the gift of faith, we know that Jesus was much more than a “prophet.”  Jesus is the Son of God, who has a divine nature as well as a human nature.  The crowd was looking to Jesus for material benefits and probably also political liberation from the Roman Empire.  Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah or Savior of the Jewish race, “the King of the Jews,” but his kingdom is a spiritual one, not a political one.  He came to deliver us from sin, to give us the ability to do the will of God more perfectly, and to give hope for eternal life in the life beyond this one.


As we celebrate Palm Sunday and enter into the final week of the Lenten season, we are called to reflect on our own approach to Jesus.  Is our belief in him based mainly on the hope of material benefits rather than of spiritual ones?  Are we getting too comfortable in our living out of our faith?  We can get attached to the material comforts of life, such as good meals, watching TV and movies, doing secular reading, and spending time on the Internet.  During Holy Week we are encouraged to focus more on the salvation that Jesus won for us and on the cost that was involved to bring about this salvation.  Jesus had to undergo great suffering and death to win our salvation.  During this time, we need to focus more on what Jesus has done for us and to appreciate the love that Jesus showed on our behalf.  Let us pray that in this time of Holy Week, we can spend extra time in prayer and in reflection.  Let us pray that we will grow in our faith in Jesus and that we will follow him and his example more closely.  Let us thank the Lord for what he has done for us and pray that we will be live as true disciples and someday be with him forever in his heavenly kingdom.