April 13, 2014 - Palm Sunday, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Today we remember the day Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time. It is a triumphant procession. The crowds are on his side, waving palm branches and crying, “Hosanna!” They love him.
But this is not the only procession entering Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Many Jewish pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Passover.
The city was filled with people, bursting at the seams. They secretly hoped to be delivered from the Roman occupation. Protests were inevitable.
So at each Passover, the Roman governor, Pilate at the time, rode up from his royal court to Jerusalem with a cohort of cavalry and troops to reinforce the local Roman soldiers.
Pilate’s procession arrived from the west. Jesus’ procession arrived from the east. Pilate rode into the city on a warhorse. Jesus rode in on a donkey.
The contrast is startling. Jesus versus Pilate. The nonviolent Son of God versus the violence of the Roman Empire.
Two arrivals. Two processions. Two ways of life. Two choices.
God is against the betrayal of Jesus, the denial of Peter, the corruption of Pilate and Herod, and the Jewish High Priests.
God is against the capital punishment of Jesus and the exchange of the innocent for the release of the guilty Barabbas.
In contemporary terms, God is against the lies and corruptions of the marketplace. God is against corporate greed and government waste. God is also against personal greed and personal waste. This occurs while much of the world’s people are hungry and homeless.
God is against murder and violence in our cities. God is against the vulgarity of our speech and the explicit language in our music. God is against our moral waywardness and the misuse of power.
God is for Jesus who told us to turn the other cheek, to go two miles when forced to go one, to be reconciled with our brother or sister before bringing our gift here to the altar.
God is for Jesus who would not return evil for evil, who cried out from the cross, “forgive them for they don’t know,” who said put your sword away, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and give your life away if you truly want to live it.
On the day Jesus entered Jerusalem from the east on a donkey, Pilate entered from the west on a warhorse.
Today, you and I have a choice. When we enter Jerusalem, which procession will we be in?
As the shepherd of this local church, I will be in Jesus’ procession.
I invite you to be here with me. I want you to be here with me.
Jesus’ procession will lead us here Thursday evening to sit at the table with the Lord at the Last Supper and receive the gift of the Eucharist from the hands of Jesus himself.
This procession will lead us here on Good Friday at 3:00 in the afternoon, the hour Jesus died, to stand at the foot of the cross.
And this same procession will lead us here once again in the darkness of the night on Holy Saturday to watch and wait for the Son of God, who was crucified, died and was buried, to rise from the dead.
The choice is ours. Two processions. Two choices.
Which procession will you be in?