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A King’s Coronation
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Procession with Palms Reading)
When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone should say to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ reply, ‘The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once.’” So they went off and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. Some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They answered them just as Jesus had told them to, and they permitted them to do it. So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”
Opening Prayer: Lord, help me to pray well in order to be able to accept the kingdom you offer instead of the kingdom I desire.
- The Moment of Triumph: Jesus entered Jerusalem as a Jewish king arriving for his coronation. Passover was the traditional day for Jewish kings to be crowned. When entering a city the king would ride a donkey—the traditional royal mount (horses were only ridden by a conqueror entering a vanquished city). According to tradition, the Messiah would come from the east, from the direction of the Mount of Olives. Jesus entered Jerusalem with a large crowd of pilgrims coming from Galilee for the feast of Passover. Many in Galilee already considered Jesus to be the Messiah and when they saw all this, they began to proclaim him Messiah and cover the road with palm branches and their cloaks for him to ride over. Jesus clearly entered Jerusalem as the Messianic king riding to his coronation.
- What Kind of King?: The Apostles were excited. Things were finally working out as they had hoped! Almost everyone expected the Messiah to begin a new Jewish empire. He would come in, be crowned as king, raise an army and drive out the Romans—perhaps even conquer the whole Roman Empire and establish a Jewish Empire in its place. They knew Jesus was the Messiah and they were the ones closest to him. They would have the top posts in the new empire! Everything was going great! They had forgotten Jesus’s triple warning about his impending death in Jerusalem. They had forgotten what he said in the beatitudes. They were not prepared for what would happen this week. When Jesus needed them the most, all except John would come up short.
- It’s Hard to Be a Citizen of Jesus’s Kingdom: Unlike the Apostles, I know what kind of kingdom Jesus is preparing. In spite of the glory of his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, it will be a kingdom of struggle and sacrifice. It will be a kingdom that will never be fully accepted by this world. In spite of its many members, it will remain invisible without borders or territory, because it is a kingdom that exists in peoples’ hearts. The Apostles weren’t ready for this, so they failed when Jesus was crowned on Good Friday. If I am looking for a kingdom of this world, I will fail too.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, it would be great to remain in the glory of Palm Sunday, to enjoy being a citizen of a kingdom of this world. But that is not the kind of kingdom you offer. Your kingdom opposes the glory of this world and so it will always be opposed. Please help me to love and desire to be a member of your kingdom because, in the end, your kingdom is much better than the world’s, in spite of the difficulties I encounter.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make some small sacrifice as a sign that I belong to your kingdom, a kingdom of sacrifice and struggle, and not one of glory, comfort, and fame.
For Further Reflection: The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes by Jacques Philippe.
Father James Swanson is from Miles City, Montana, joined the Legionaries of Christ in 1983, and currently works in Atlanta, Georgia. He enjoys books, craft beers, and extreme birding.