Palm Sunday, 2019
It’s funny how so many people pay strict attention to their health, finances, education, material possessions and well-being, but pay little or no attention to their souls (which last forever) and what makes us pleasing in the sight of God, like keeping his commandments. We tell ourselves that we would never be among the crowd that would crucify Our Lord, but our actions will tell us the real story.
Every year we hear the account of Our Lord’s passion on Palm Sunday and then again on Good Friday. The various reaction of the crowd reminds me of a song by the Stylistics that has these lines in it: ”First you love me, then you hate me, that’s a game for fools!” I know this song is not in the Bible, but it does pretty much sum up the changing emotions of the spectators in the passion drama. The people of Jesus’ time had mixed emotions where Our Lord was concerned!
What in the world is going on here? It would appear that the same people who are crying “Hosanna to the King!” as Jesus enters Jerusalem are yelling “Crucify him! Crucify him!” only a few days later. So what changed?
You will also notice that we ourselves in the Palm Sunday liturgy play both parts. We begin Palm Sunday entering the church with our palm branches waving and the joy of singing, but it isn’t long until we ourselves are asked to also play the part of yelling “Crucify him! Crucify him!” during the reading of the passion.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon of both glorifying and reviling Christ are parts that most of us play regularly. We love him, and yet we also at times can commit terrible sins against him. Jesus, in fact, makes himself just as vulnerable to us in our own era as he did 2000 years ago. He invites us to love him by our trying to keep his commandments and to trust him by accepting the inevitable crosses that come our way. At times, we can react in ways that glorify God with a cry of “Hosanna”, while at other times we can react with rebellion, mistrust and sin. In essence, our actions in such moments are as if we were yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
We live in the middle of a huge battleground; the battlefield is called life on earth and it is our souls that are at stake. Those who don’t realize this can risk putting their eternity in danger by making wrong choices. The forces of evil, the sins that we commit tend to pull us toward hell, while our choices for Christ pull us toward heaven. In this brief and transitory life in this material world, we are daily called to make good choices for God; and by our choices we are deciding whether to “crucify” the will of God for our lives or to cry “hosanna” to his will!