6th Sunday in Lent. Yr.C (Leaflet)

Gospel for blessing with palms:  Lk.19:28-40

Vs.28   Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

Vs.29   Now when he was near Bethphage, close by the Mount of Olives, as it is called, he sent two of the disciples, telling them,

Vs.30   “Go off to the village opposite, and as you enter you will find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden.  Untie it and bring it here.

Vs.31   If anyone asks you, ‘why are you untying it?’ you are to say ‘the Master needs it.’

Vs.32   The messengers went off and found everything just as he had told them.

Vs.33   As they were untying the colt, its owner said, “Why are you untying that colt?”

Vs.34   and they answered, “The Master needs it.”

Vs.35   So they took the colt to Jesus, and throwing the garments over its back, they helped Jesus unto it.

Vs.36   As he moved off, people spread their cloaks on the road, and now, as he was approaching the downward slope of the Mount of Olives,

Vs.37   the whole group of disciples joyfully began to praise God at the top of their voices for all the miracles they had seen.

Vs.38   They cried out,

     “Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord.

       Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!”

Vs.39   Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Master, check your disciples,”

Vs.40   but he answered, “I tell you, if these keep silence the stones will cry out.

Guidelines that might be of some help for Meditation.

Palm Sunday – Entry into Jerusalem

Luke 19: 28-40

The entry into Jerusalem was a significant event for the early Christian communities as all four evangelists record this story.  We approach it with great reverence aware of the fact that it was treasured and valued in the early Christian communities.  All the Evangelists recollected this event  with Old Testament texts in the background.To  enter deeply into this passage and appreciate it fully some appreciation of this  Old Testament background is helpful.  Luke does not make a direct reference to these passages but the references are implicit in the text and presumably with their knowledge of scripture the early Christians would have been familiar with them.  When Jesus entered Jerusalem he enacted symbolically a prophesy from Zechariah 9:9-10 -“rejoice heart and soul daughter of Zion…See how he comes, he is victorious, he is humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt …he will banish chariots …and horses from Jerusalem …the bow of war will be banished …he will proclaim peace for the nations”.

The message was clear.  God is coming to save you with power that is humble and yet victorious.  The donkey (colt) was a placid, lowly and local animal, less physically powerful than the horse.  It was the animal of the ordinary people and the traditional mount of Jewish Kings.  On the other hand “the horse” was the symbol of power and pomp, of warfare and Roman oppression.  When the Roman Governor Pilate entered Jerusalem on a horse, symbolic of force and strength, he was reinforcing the message that Rome was master. Pilate was surrounded by soldiers on horseback displaying power that was at once arrogant and cruel.  Zechariah looked forward to the future coming of a very different kind of king.  This king would be a humble peacemaker.  Jesus freely and consciously chose to enter Jerusalem on a donkey as the king prophesied by Zechariah.  This was symbolic of his gentleness, humanity and                  non-violence. A man of the people, proud of all that was best in his Jewish heritage.  The way of Jesus was one of trust and love.  He was convinced that these values would ultimately triumph and that he would draw all people to himself. 

The cries of the crowd were taken from Psalm 118:25-29

“Blessed in the name of the Lord is he who comes …Go forward in procession with branches …You are my God, I thank you my God I praise you”.

Psalm 118 was one of a series of ancient psalms sung to celebrate the annual ritual entry of the Jewish Kings, first into Jerusalem, and then into the Temple.  Over time they were traditionally sung by pilgrims to Jerusalem as part of the liturgy of great festivals as they entered the Temple.  The crowds saw the hope expressed in the psalm about to be realized in Jesus, the new king.

Where did this take place?

This took place near Bethphage or Bethany, a small villages on the top of the Mount of Olives from where Jesus would begin his descent and entry into Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was the centre of political and religious life and Jesus was certain that a hostile reception awaited him.  Going into Jerusalem was like going into “the lions den”.

When did this happen?

This was at the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life.  It was a critical moment.  Just as He had proclaimed the Kingdom in Galilee, he is intent on challenging the abusive, exploitative and oppressive powers in Jerusalem and inviting people to enter into the coming of a new reign of God’s mercy, justice and peace. Psalm Sunday is a fitting introduction to the Jesus of Holy Week.  We see the spirituality of Jesus- inwardly strong, trusting in the father, self-assured, self-possessed, confident that “his way” will be victorious.

Who was there? 

“Jesus”; “the disciples”; “the owner” of the colt – probably belonging to the network of friends that Jesus had in that area; the “pilgrims” who were there for the Passover and who were greatly impressed by Jesus and what he stood for.  They would have been camping on the hills around the amount of Olives; the “Pharisees” – probably looking on with suspicion and intrigue..

What happened? 

V28-29:  The entry from the Mount of Olives echoed lines from Zechariah (14:4,5,9) where he spoke of a vision of God coming to save his people from the Mount of Olives.  Jesus, aware of his destiny, fulfilling the coming of the Messiah, announced by Zechariah. 

V30-31:  Jesus sends his disciples to find a colt.  It was a local animal, and in choosing it, Jesus is identifying with his own people, he is being true to his own roots and origins.  No one had ever ridden it – something “new” was about to happen.  It would be returned when it had served its purpose.  Jesus had his contacts and friends who were willing to help him -“The Master needs it”

V32-34:  the owner of the colt was prepared, without any fuss, to make his contribution to the unfolding event, once he knew it was for Jesus.

V35-36:  the spreading of the cloaks and garments and the mounting of the donkey were deliberate actions fulfilling the prophecies already mentioned.  The people do not wave palm branches in St Luke’s account, but their gesture of spreading their cloaks in the road before Jesus is both a sign of their wild excitement and their welcoming him as a king.  It is an expression of extraordinary joy and abandonment.

V38:  the cry of the people also echoes the song of the angels at the birth of Jesus (Luke2:14)

V39: “Master, check your disciples” the Pharisees here represented the first assault of the opposition to Jesus.

V40:  ‘the stones will cry out”- nothing can stop Jesus.  He is secure, confident, and resolute in what he is doing.  He knows that the way of love, truth and humility is going to conquer and nothing can stop it.

These values which we see celebrated on Palm Sunday were courageously lived out by Jesus in the events of Holy week – Holy Thursday and Good Friday – and rose triumphant on Easter Morning.

Guidelines that might be of some help for Meditation.

When or how have we been Jesus or seen Jesus entering into Jerusalem, recognizing that the moment had come to do what he had to do, self-confident and courageous even though he knew he would meet plenty of difficulties?:-

  Confronting a harmful or addictive behaviour.

* Addressing a hurt or wound from the past.

•Owning and taking responsibility for some mistake.

•Standing up for something or somebody.

•Entering upon some new leadership role?

Who were the people who “helped you onto the colt and even threw their garments on its back,” and in doing so confirmed you and supported you in what you felt you had to do?

Can we remember the experience of one day recognizing someone who had been in our lives for a while, as a great person?  It wasn’t money or power or status that made them great but some strength of personality, the courage of their convictions, and a humble self-confidence.

Can we see any signs in our church at this time of a desire to return to the true roots and essence of our Christian faith: the simplicity, sincerity, humility and truth of a relationship with Jesus Christ, and a banishment of false values of arrogance, pomp and pomposity?

Have we had the experience of Jesus entering into our life through:

•The power of a passage of scripture.

• A friend we could trust totally.

•A new social movement arose in our country.

•The emergence of a leader who engenders hope.

*The birth of a baby

And we just felt to praise God at the top of our voices, “..Glory in the highest heavens?”

When have we experienced a deep sense of pride and joy in our heritage, culture, creativity of our local community or country?

Continuing the Lectio Journey

Let the prayers of thanksgiving, repentance and petition flow from your meditation – ideally these are expressed in our own words interlaced with words from the passage.  (See introduction to Lectio stages.)

Let the rich silence of God’s presence grow and deepen as we journey to a prayer of no words and no images – simple presence to the presence of God. (Contemplative moment – see introduction).

We reflect on our experience of the work of God in the passage and in life until a truth or some truths emerge – new insights into life and love – which can be savoured and celebrated in prayer as they release their life-giving power in us, moulding and shaping our minds and hearts and bearing fruit in our lives.   (Wisdom Moment – see introduction).

The word of God is a scented garden

The bible is a scented garden, delightful, beautiful.

It enchants our ears with birdsong in a sweet, divine and spiritual harmony; it touches our heart, comforts us in sorrow, soothes us in a moment of anger, and fills us with eternal joy.  Let us knock at its gate with diligence and perseverance.

Let us not be discouraged from knocking.  The latch will be opened.  If we have read a page or two of the bible two or three times, let us not be tired of rereading and meditating upon it.

Let us seek in the fountain of this garden “ a spring of water welling up to eternal life..Jn 4:14

We shall taste a joy that will never dry up because the grace of the bible garden is inexhaustible.  John Damascene 8thc.

The word of God is a scented garden

The bible is a scented garden, delightful, beautiful.

It enchants our ears with birdsong in a sweet, divine and spiritual harmony; it touches our heart, comforts us in sorrow, soothes us in a moment of anger, and fills us with eternal joy.  Let us knock at its gate with diligence and perseverance.

Let us not be discouraged from knocking.  The latch will be opened.  If we have read a page or two of the bible two or three times, let us not be tired of rereading and meditating upon it.

Let us seek in the fountain of this garden “ a spring of water welling up to eternal life..Jn 4:14

We shall taste a joy that will never dry up because the grace of the bible garden is inexhaustible.  John Damascene 8thc.