Gospel Reflection for April 10, 2022 – Palm Sunday, Passion of the Lord

St. Luke accounts that on his entry into Jerusalem Jesus was greeted by: “the whole multitude of his disciples.” Certainly the crowds who came to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast would have included many who had followed Jesus in Galilee. This must mean that in this crowd there are those whom Jesus had cured from any of a myriad of diseases. Likely here also is Lazarus, whom resuscitated from the dead a short time earlier. Perhaps many here were present when Jesus fed the crowd with a mere few loaves and fish. Certainly all of them have heard Jesus preach, and likely many of them could recount parables they had heard and various lessons Jesus taught them along the way. This was a crowd of people who knew Jesus well and they are now poised to introduce him to the men and women of Jerusalem, as well as the pilgrims who have assembled from around the Roman world.

They are here, not just to attend the great Passover feast, but to acclaim Jesus as the M

essiah as he enters the City of David, where presumably they hope to proclaim him king. It is likely that this was not a spontaneous act, but one that was arranged by some of the disciples in the crowd. Jesus knew well what to expect, and he allowed the crowd to hail his entry into the city.

We do not really know what they expected to happen when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem. No army accompanied him, so they could not realistically expect an insurgency that would result in his coronation as their king. Perhaps they expected a divine intervention akin to Moses leading the Israelites across the Red Sea. There might even have been those who imagined that the Romans would leave peacefully in the presence of the anointed of God. Whatever any of them hoped for, none of this will happen. By the end of the week this king wears a crown of thorns as a sign of his rejection and as a mockery of any claims of kingship he might have had.

This moment of exclamation and enthusiasm will give way rather quickly to dissatisfaction and rejection. While likely some in this crowd will turn on Jesus by the end of the week and infamously shout “Crucify him!” it is probably a different crowd at the end of the week all together.

Holy Week begins. Here each of us stands in one crowd or another either welcoming Jesus as messiah or rejecting him in favor of the kingdoms of this world.

Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.