March 28, 2021
This weekend we celebrate Palm/Passion Sunday, which shows the extremes in our relationship with Jesus. As we begin
the celebration this week, we see Jesus triumphantly entering into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The crowd waves palm branches and spreads their cloaks on the road. Jesus is given a royal welcome.
From the tone of the reading, we get a very clear picture that the people are truly happy to see Him, that they believe in Him – that they love Him. That all makes sense. After all, they have seen and heard about the miracles he has performed, the peace he has brought – the love he has shown for them.
We contrast that experience with what we see in the reading of the Passion. Jesus is again facing a large crowd. But this crowd feels very different about Jesus. Pilate is looking to have that crowd – perhaps even some of the same people who gave Jesus a royal welcome just a few days earlier – to show their love for Jesus and demand his release. Instead, he hears cries, not of Hosanna, but instead, he hears “Crucify Him, Crucify Him.” And so Pilate relents and hands Jesus over to be crucified.
While the Roman soldiers were the ones that held the hammer that nailed Jesus to the cross, in truth, everyone in that crowd that yelled “Crucify Him,” symbolically had their hands on that hammer. Their cheers, their shouts, their
anger was what crucified Jesus.
So the question for us, as we enter Holy Week, is – what’s in your hand – a hammer or a palm? For most of us, the answer is probably not one or the other, but YES. By that, I mean a palm in one hand and a hammer in the other. Certainly, we have times when we welcome Jesus into our lives with great joy, with shouts of praise and gladness and other times when we want to drive him away and do things our own way. Times when we don’t want to listen to Jesus.
St. Paul reminds us in our second reading (Philippians 2:6-11) that Jesus emptied himself, humbled himself and was obedient to the Father. Jesus understood that doing God’s will, not his own would bring Him the ultimate joy. As we enter into Holy Week, let’s focus on the words of St. Paul and drop the hammer and fill our hands with palms!