ZECHARIAH PROPHESIED: “Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, o daughter of Jerusalem! For, see, your king is coming, just and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. ... He will reign from sea to sea, and from  the  river  to the ends of the eath” (Zech 9: 9-1-).

In the New Testament, Jesus’ last coming to Jerusalem was a triumphant entry. When Jesus and his disciples drew near Jerusalem and came to Berthage on the Mount of Olives, He sent two disciples to the opposite village where they would find “an ass tethered, and a colt with her”. They should untie them and bring them to him. they brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. He was met by many local people and several pilgrims who had come from many parts of the Mediterranean world to celebrate the feast of Passover in Jerusalem. The large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding  him and those following kept crying out and saying “Hossana to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hossana in the highest.”

When He entered Jerusalem, the whole  city was shaken and asked “who is this?” The crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.” They were extremely happy. They were proud of Jesus who had been performing miracles. Our Lord Jesus did not smile or laugh to acknowledge their cheers. Instead, he was thinking of what would befall him after the triumphant  entry.

They saluted him as the Messiah - the King of Israel. They did not salute him as a political king now, as other enthusiastists had done on a previous occasion. After feeding five thousand men with five barley loaves and two fish. The left over filled twelve large baskets. This was a great sign for them and they said, “This is really the prophet, he who is to come into the world.” Jesus realised that they were about to come and take him by force and make him king; so he withdrew to the hills by himself (Jn 6: 15). This is paradoxical.

Furthermore, what moved the local inhabitants and the foreign pilgrims was the raising of Lazarus from the tomb. They were honouring mhim as the conqueror of death. The Pharisees were shocked but could do nothing. They exclaimed to one another “We are getting nowhere, the whole world has gone after him” (Jn 12: 19).

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the great week of the Liturgical year. The Holy Week calls to mind the commemoration of the chief mysteries of our divine faith and contemplation of the words of the Lord in the last days of his earthly life.

The humiliation of Christ is contrasted with the highest honour. Among those who waved palm branches to honour him and who sang aloud “Hosannah to the Son of David, Hosanna in the highest” there were perhaps some who urged on by the leaders, would be shouting the following Friday, “away with him, crucify him! and “we have no king but Ceasar.” Such was the fickleness of human nature!

We have no reason to put our trust in worldly honour and triumph. There are many examples in history that teach us this lesson. The great and famous city of Pompey was burned to ashes by a natural calamity, a volcano. Napoleon the conqueror died in solitude, in exile. The mighty Adolf Hitler who terrorised the world committed suicide in total despair. Eva Braun took poison and died.

Jesus became one like us in all things except sin. He became one with the weak and suffering humanity., When Socrates, the great Greek Philosopher, was condemned to death, he stood forth and gave a beautiful and impressive speech on his lofty doctrine. With great magnanimity and grace, he received the poison and drank it himself, and died the death of a hero. However, Jesus did not die like a hero. He sweated blood and experienced fear. He was abandoned by his disciples, betrayed by the crowd that prefers Barabbas, made fun of, beaten up and humiliated by the soldiers, insulted by the passers-by and by the leaders of the people who witnessed his crucifixion. He was surrounded on all sides by complete darkness. St Mark remarked: “There were some women watching from a distance” (Mk 15: 41). The agony was great and indescribable. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you  forsaken me?” He died the weakest, the poorest and the humblest. He died in m,profound solidarity with our nrace in weakness, suffering and shame. Death came to him with all its pain, cruelty and violence.

We have often been with the madding crowd, shouting “Crucify him, crucify him” Every time we did it to the least of our brethren, we did it to Jesus.

Crucifixion always remains the only mode of salvation. We learn many things from the Crucifix e.g. charity, (Jn 15: 13), patience (Is 53: 7), humility, obedience (Phil 2: 9-10), detachment etc.

In his work Christian Hope, the great theologian John Macquarrie comments: “But it was precisely His passion which opened the new and deeper understanding of God as one who stands with His creatures amid the sins and sufferings of the world, and is not therefore a distant celestial monarch, untouched by the travail of creation.”

Pope Benedict XVI states: “Holy Saturday is the day when God is dead, the day that gives voice to and anticipates the shocking experience of our time: That God seems to be absent, that he is in his grave, that he will not awaken again, not speak again, so that one need no longer dispute his existence, but can simply forget about him ... Only we have experienced Goid as silence can we hope to hear as well his speech that issues in silence. Can we wonder that the Church, that the life of the individual, leads us again and again to this hour of silence.”

St Francis of Assisi prays: “We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all your churches in the whole world, and we bless you because by your cross you have redeemed  the world.”

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