PALM SUNDAY/PASSION OF CHRIST
Year B April 1, 2012
The Rev. Leonard Oakes
I just love singing that song, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest” Can we sing that song again? Imagine yourself present in that crowd with Jesus to Jerusalem singing this song. I just want to keep that feeling for a longer time. I want to keep that experience of going to Jerusalem with Jesus waving those branches of palms, the feeling of victory, a wonderful feeling of celebration, the most wonderful feeling of welcoming Christ. The feeling of being welcomed with Christ in this Church is so wonderful and blessed. Kindly turn to the person next and around you and say, “My heart welcomes you in the name of Christ, Hosanna in the highest!”
Let us keep that Hospitality everyday not only to ourselves but to all whom we meet abroad? Don’t take away that hospitable feeling quite fast. Don’t take away the healings and touch of love that happened on the way to Jerusalem.
Oh how I wish I could keep that jubilant feeling longer, but I know that there’s more to it in Jerusalem that our Lord Jesus Christ had to face. See, the celebration was cut short; he is now in the hands of those in the law. They’re trying to banish him right away. I know there’s more far important that what happened on the triumphant entry to Jerusalem. It is through the sacrificial act of God’s only son for our salvation from sinfulness that the Love of God made manifest. This story needs to be told from generation to generation, that all may know and feel the love of God for humanity.
Christians all over the world today celebrate the triumphant entry of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Spreading their garments and branches of palms proclaiming Christ as the King of kings and we take part of the victorious sign. It’s so great to see us all wave our pickets with signs such as; “Love God!” There’s a great feeling of joy and love in every heart in this church today. Let that feeling stay. Don’t let it go. Let us not be ashamed in proclaiming that Christ is the King who came to save us. Let our hosannas ring in every country and every clime, in every valley and peaks, in every heart of those who listens to God. Hosanna in the highest!
But we know that is not all there is in the road to Jerusalem. The road also leads us to the cross which is the final victory. From the beginning of our liturgical celebration today, we were not mere spectators but participants of the grand procession with the blessed palms, the hymns of praises and eventually our sharing of the Passover meal and our mission to the world is itself a sermon. It is in itself a living experience we meet in our everyday lives; our everyday passion, our everyday victory. Our lord Jesus Christ in this very day did not call and teach disciples and followers in order to have audience in his painful sufferings and death. He knows the danger that is waiting for him in Jerusalem but he is not going there and wished to appeal to the nation solemnly gathered for the festival, to follow his way and so make possible the establishment of the kingdom so that they would either repent and follow its righteousness, or exhibit themselves as disobedient. But rather, he gathered them and led them to a destiny where they can be a witness of God’s saving grace an event that is going to take place in the resurrection. It is that same grace God gave his only Son to us. Humbled himself and became one of us that he may feel and live the life we have. He obediently followed the will of the father by lifting up the lives of the less fortunate, the destitute, the lonely, and the persecuted. He prepared them about the coming event of his crucifixion in the place he was born and he dearly loved; the city of Jerusalem. But he also assured them that on the third day he will rise again that the world may believe and that the world may be saved. With these, he simply taught his disciples to ride on an animal that is a symbol of quietness, not on a war horse, wave palm branches not spears and guns and bombs, the songs of children not the shouts of soldiers. Following Christ is not always a glorious experience; it can be painful, dangerous, and sacrificial even to the call of death. Such road is what our lord Jesus Christ would like us to follow. We too have our own roads to Jerusalem. It may be bumpy, rocky and even muddy. Our Journey may not be glorious but at least we chose the road that is essential to our faith as followers of Christ. God has assured us that in our struggles, he will always be with us. He will always be there for us like he was with Moses and Israel in their liberation from the bondage in Egypt; Like he was with Martin Luther King and the other civil rights leaders in their struggle for equality and brotherhood; like he was with mother Theresa of Calcutta on her compassion towards the poor, as he was with those who once lived and are living for the cause of the kingdom of God. God is with His Son Jesus and He is with us now.
Let us with gladness then being inspired by the grace of God, share these feelings of being welcomed among others, the feeling of being healed and blessed.
Let the end of our Eucharist be the beginning of service with God. When you go home today, pick out some extra branches of the blessed palms with you and give them to those whom you meet, to those who are lonely at home, in the hospitals and everywhere. Let that be the outward sign of your calling to spread the love of God among all others.
Let us therefore shout again and again, “Blessed is Christ who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.