Palm Sunday: Honor and power

It is hard to believe it is already Holy Week.  Palm Sunday bring us to the remembrance of, as the collect says, Christ’s one earthly triumph.   What were the people thinking as they cried out Hosanna?  Were they hailing a political messiah, or a healing thaumaturge, or just the flavor of the moment?  Given how quickly the story turns toward Good Friday, it seems safe to assume that, in their praise, the multitude missed the point.  Jesus’ power is not the sort that brings accolades from crowds — and if it seems to, we may want to question their (our) perception of what they (we) are praising.

Nonetheless, Christ is not only the humble, suffering messiah.  The first reading (from Rev 19) presents us with the faithful and true one whose eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his heads were many crowns, and his name is called the Word of God; and he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written: King of kings, and Lord of lords.   What do we make of these contrasts, which refuse any easy reconciliation?   They will grow even more stark as this week progresses.  The suffering tortured failure is also the resurrected one who holds all the stars in his hand.  We cannot have only one side of this equation, but our minds reel and start to pull toward one side or the other – like the multitude in the gospel that shout Hosanna, and then scream Crucify Him. 

Let us place our hands over our mouths, stopping such easy speech, and simply gaze unblinkingly at the mystery, willing to see all the horror and all the wonder that Holy Week brings to us.

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