The Long Journey Is Just About Over
The Sixth Sunday in Lent: Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday (Year C)
Liturgy of the Palms
Psalter: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Gospel: Luke 19:28-40
Liturgy of the Passion
Old Testament: Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalter: Psalm 31:9-16
Epistle: Philippians 2:5-11
Gospel: Luke 22:14—23:56
Giver of light, your steadfast love endures forever. Open our hearts to the Blessed One who comes so humbly, on a borrowed colt. Open before us the gates of your justice, that we may enter, confessing in heaven and on earth that Jesus is Lord. Amen.
As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen….(Luke 19:36-37).
I remember when I was a young boy, I hated going to the doctor. I hated it because I did not know what sort of pain might be inflicted upon me. I did not like gagging when the doctor stuck that Popsicle stick down my throat, particularly since there was no Popsicle on the stick; and worst of all, I was scared to death of some needle being stuck into my arm. To this day, I remember being five or six years old and sitting in the back seat of the car while my parents drove me to the doctor. It was a journey I hoped would take forever, but it always seemed to be too short.
It was way back in Luke 9:51 that the writer of the third Gospel informs us that Jesus begins his final journey to Jerusalem. Luke tells us that Jesus “set his face” toward the holy city indicating the determination of Jesus to reach this final destination where he will be handed over and crucified. And now, after all this time—on the heels of teaching and preaching and healing and the controversy that also seemed to follow Jesus—he has now reached the place where the battle will end. Jesus knowing what would very shortly take place, probably thought the long journey to Jerusalem was not nearly long enough. Time may indeed fly when we are having fun; it can also move too quickly when what lay ahead is to be dreaded.
But Jesus is welcomed by many people as he rides into Jerusalem... just how many is impossible to say... but it was enough for the Pharisees to take notice. Of course, it was easy for the people to welcome Jesus. From their vantage point, he was now going to take his rightful place at the head of an army of God’s people who would once and for all deliver them from their oppressors-- in this case the Romans. They too thought their long journey through foreign occupation, through exile in their own homeland, was about to end. Their long desired deliverance, which would be their great destination was at hand.
And indeed, their deliverance was upon them, but it would not look the way they envisaged it. And because Jesus will not be the kind of deliverer, the kind of Messiah they want, it will be easy to turn against this messianic pretender only days later. Since Jesus would not lead Israel to its desired destination in the way they believed it must be traveled, he must be eliminated.
Jesus’ long journey into the night is almost at hand.
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