Jesus enters Jerusalem at Passover as a King in preparation for His Passion. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Sacrifice so he can sacrifice in gratitude for Christ’s many blessings and by seeking the Fruit of Joy so he can be filled with awe at the Sanctus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Holy Week – Palm Sunday – Cycle A – Mt 21:1-11
Jesus’ deliberate preparation to fully reveal Himself to the world in the Passion and Resurrection continues with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the Passover (likely date: April 3, 33 A.D.). Withdrawing from Jerusalem after raising Lazarus to avoid the Jewish leadership’s plot to kill Him (Jn 11), Jesus returns before Passover and waits in the small town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem. Jesus directs two disciples to fetch a donkey and colt from a nearby village, mysteriously knowing the animals have been prepared for Him.
Jesus purposefully enters Jerusalem in a highly provocative and symbolic way to announce the salvation of His coming Kingdom. Kings in the ancient Middle East entered conquered cities leading a symbolic procession on a warhorse to announce the enslavement of the conquered. Rather than riding a warhorse, Jesus fulfills centuries-old Hebrew prophecies (Is 62:11; Zech 9:9), by humbly entering Jerusalem on a peaceful donkey to announce the freedom of salvation. Jesus symbolically replays and perfects King Solomon’s entry into Jerusalem a thousand years before: both are “Sons of David”, both ride a humble animal (donkey/mule) and both enter Jerusalem and are greeted by ecstatic crowds.
As Jesus enters Jerusalem on the colt, huge crowds of pilgrims lay their garments on the ground for Him to trod upon, signifying they consider that Jesus is their king (2 Kings 9:13). Knowing that Jesus’ name means “God saves”, the crowds shout, “Hosanna” (Hebrew, meaning “Save Us”). Calling Jesus the Son of David, a title for the Messiah, the crowds cry, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”, a mysterious irony for Jesus is the Lord. Achieving His purpose, Jesus’ entry causes an uproar throughout Jerusalem, setting the stage for His saving Passion and Resurrection.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Marvel that over the entire history of mankind, Jesus, a Person of the Trinity with Divine Knowledge and Power, planned and orchestrated events to culminate in the saving miracle of His Passion and Resurrection: He creates kings, and guides their actions to create symbolic events (arriving in Jerusalem on a donkey); He inspires/directs prophets to record these symbolic events; He meticulously orchestrates the details of His spectacular entry as Divine King into Jerusalem at the great feast of the Passover.
Sacrifice in gratitude for Christ’s many blessings
Realize: Those who greet Jesus as He enters Jerusalem, worship Him with their whole being, offering a beautiful act of sacrifice by laying down their garments and allowing Him to tread upon their clothing.
Believe: Reflect upon the need to Sacrifice for Christ (CCC 2099-2100).
Pray: Jesus, Crucified Christ, help me build the Virtue of Sacrifice (a part of Justice) so I frequently turn from worldly pursuits to generously “lay down” my time, talent, and treasure as a sacrifice of gratitude for all the blessings You have given me.
Be filled with awe and joy in the Sanctus
Realize: Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is recalled in the Mass when all present respond with the great hymn of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy); the Sanctus is also on the lips of those in the Church Triumphant of Heaven who eternally celebrate the Liturgy in communion with the Church Militant on earth (Rev 4:11).
Believe: Reflect upon the Sanctus in the Mass (CCC 559).
Pray: Spirit of God, fill me with the Fruit of Joy as I witness, am overwhelmed with awe, and proclaim the Sanctus during the Most Holy Mass, in communion with the Church on earth and all the saints in Heaven.