Welcome to Jerusalem
Our Liturgy today focuses on two points: Jesus entry into Jerusalem that we mark with palms and possibly a procession; and the reading of Matthew’s Passion. In one liturgy we put together the entrance and hear the death of Jesus. Our liturgies of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum are not historical reenactments. We ‘mix and match’ in a sense. We let the mysteries of Passion seep into our lives however they can. We hear on Good Friday that this Jesus will rise, and at Easter the Risen One died for us. We see his wounds. His wounds are our wounds, and we can make his, ours.
The entry into Jerusalem shows us Jesus with those who have gathered along on this journey for the Passover. The apostles, perhaps without much enthusiasm, and the women of Galilee are there. It seems Bartimaeus joined the ranks in Jericho. And maybe more? The entrance into the Holy City doesn’t seem planned or well organized. Word would have have spread that Jesus approached. Would some of the city people hurried to see Jesus? Would Nicodemus and the blind man cured at Siloam have found their way to the procession?
I am especially curious about the woman we met last Monday, the one dragged before Jesus for committing adultery. Jesus sent her away and told her not to sin anymore. I always hope that she was not scarred by the incredible cruelty and embarrassment that she was subjected to, that Jesus’ mercy was totally curative. I hope she was so moved by the encounter of love that she didn’t go far away. Instead maybe hiding in a crowd, avoiding pharisees, she stayed close enough to hear Jesus speak. Could she have had a friend or two who kept her informed about Jesus? She met Jesus not on this trip to the Passover but at another time, the journey for the feast of Tabernacles, so time had passed. If she joined the crowd today maybe she fell in with some of the Galilean women and stayed with that group or offered some of them hospitably? Could she have stayed with them on Calvary, or maybe none of that but instead found her place on a city street in Jerusalem with other women who beat their breasts as Jesus passed them carrying the cross?
This year we might consciously let our palm procession begin when we leave for church and continue it when we set off after the liturgy to continue our day. Lent for some is a straight path to the gate of Jerusalem, for others we may have been turned around a few times, passed through darkness and silence, brightness and cacophony. This day mayhem surrounds Jesus as well as any number of interesting people with him. We come together with them. Like the two cured blind men, like Martha and Mary, like a woman who felt Jesus’ love in kindness and mercy, like the uncomfortable apostles and even poor Judas, we know Jesus is with us. We know him and have seen wonderful things because we have walked with him. Bigger surprises await us because our God is a God who loves surprises, and whose surprises best reveal love!
Welcome to Jerusalem. May the Spirit guide us and keep us alert to be with Our Lord.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.