“I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them.” –Ez. 37:26
“What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?” – Jn. 11:56
The crowd begins to gather, the route into Jerusalem taking shape. The palm fronds are gathered and strewn throughout the street, paving the way. Even knowing that the plotting has begun against him, Jesus enters the city in broad daylight rather than cloaked in the dark of night.
Legends abound of swans (a mostly mute animal) singing a glorious symphony just before they die. This “swan song” is a way of announcing death and leaving a legacy with the living. In some ways, the entry into Jerusalem is a beginning of the Swan Song that culminates at the Last Supper.
The Pharisees and high priests suspected he would come: to purify himself for Passover, to be with the people, and to honor God. I may be conflicted about this burst of joy as Holy Week begins, or the joy may feel like a façade amidst the fasting and sacrifice I’ve been focused on for Lent. But Jesus has rooted us in a deeper reality: that whatever evil and pain arises in the coming days, we know who He truly is.
I imagine Judas Iscariot picking up a frond and joining the cheering, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna!” I imagine the thoughts racing through his mind, his justification of the lying and deceit. It is far easier to place myself in the crowd as an adoring fan waving my banner. If I too hail the king, then my part as a co-conspirator in his crucifixion feels more acutely like a betrayal. Why would I praise and adore Him just before I turn against Him?
I imagine Judas praying:
Lord, even though I am about to betray you, I can’t deny the reality that I have witnessed. I love you, Lord- but right now, my fear is bigger than that love.
Do I feel like Judas on the brink of betrayal… Peter so full of doubt… Or the women who always trusted in the Resurrection? Take me, just as I am Lord, as we enter Holy Week together.
Photo credit: Picjumbo