Happy Palm Sunday! We remember today the triumphal entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem, the city of the Great King. This event is memorialized for us in the first reading. Today’s Gospel reading takes us on a different journey, from the betrayal of Jesus to His passion and death on the cross. So much has been said about these verses over the years, and by the greatest minds in history, that it is difficult to feel I can add anything of substantive value. I will simply offer a thought on one element of the story that has gripped me in recent years.
The rabid crowd desired to have Barabbas released when given the choice by Pilate. Barabbas means ‘son of the father’ (bar = son, abba = father). So, the opponents of the Son of God hate Him so much they ultimately free a (failed) violent revolutionary instead. If Jesus had come with swords and spears, they would, I speculate, have welcomed Him. Or at least not sought his death, leaving it solely to the Romans. Instead, Jesus comes with signs, wonders, and powers. He comes with a radical self-understanding. He preaches about a Kingdom that is not of this world.
Alas, what most people want is a worldly kingdom. They want violence, money, and power. They ultimately want these things more than God, if it could be said they want God at all. But wanting anything more than God is the chief sin. It is the sin of our first parents and the sin that leads to Jesus’ death.
As this lenten season draws to a close, our journey does not end at the cross. The grave is not the finale. We solemnly reflect upon the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ this week, with a small ember of hope within us waiting to be fanned by the Holy Spirit. There is a kernel of beauty within the hideousness of the Crucifixion.