Today’s Gospel is so well known that we risk glossing over it’s importance. We see Christ enter the city on a donkey, triumphant as a leader, as a king of sorts. He has the people’s trust. They lay leaves down to carpet his path, a symbol of opulence and trust in him. The shout in jubilation: Hosanna!
For the disciples this was a moment when things started coming together. The kingship of Jesus, their leader, was taking on a bigger role in the community. Could they have foreseen the terrors that we to come?
Perhaps. They already knew that Jesus’ leadership was one that they couldn’t quite grasp, coouldn’t quite evaluate. Why else would Jesus be inclined to check their comments so often, to despair at their getting the wrong end of the stick so often. They did not understand.
The central element to their not understanding was their humanity. They could not grasp that Jesus’s leadership was informed by an extraordinary self-sacrifice. They could not fully understand the humility of Jesus and how it went to the heart of his message. So, when in the coming days Jesus was imprisoned, tortured, crucified and put to death, for them it would have been all over. Who could have thought otherwise? They were led by humanity.
Whereas, Jesus is led by the extraordinariness of Godship. And within this gift, he is fully human. He comes to those who do not understand, and before their eyes he becomes their salvation through a self-sacrifice that few could imagine.
Today, on Passion Sunday, his kingship is evident. Let us, the spiritual brothers of the disciples, participate in welcoming him into our hearts. Let us pave his way with whatever we can lay our hands on: using our love for others and our work and our voices to welcome him in. And, when we are on trial ourselves in the crucible of life – when we struggle with temptation and sin – let us remember what Jesus did for us in the most public sphere of humiliation, and be closer to him. We may not understand, but we still have Christ as our guide in life. This week, we walk with him in a special way. Let us begin the week with our own loud shouts of ‘Hosanna!’.