Sunday Reflection with Fr Terry Tastard - 28 March

We have several expressions in English to describe the point where things start to accelerate and there is no looking back.  You burn your bridges, or you cross the Rubicon, for example.  Palm Sunday always seems to me to recall one of those moments.  Jesus enters Jerusalem to public acclaim.  This, he must surely know, will trigger decisive action against him and the disciples.  Yet how could he do anything else?  Recall, if you will, his saying that the life of his followers should be like a light set on a candlestand to give light to all the house.  It must not be like a light put under a tub (Matt 5.15).  God’s message has to be proclaimed openly and to all.  Yet it must have taken courage.  That courage is one of the defining marks of the passion of the Lord, to which we turn our minds this week.  The way that he trod required a heroic, stoical endurance, in which he would have to resist fear, as well as the temptation to run away and abandon everything.
It is extraordinary how on Palm Sunday we run the gamut of emotions. First, with the crowd, we are acclaiming Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem, and shouting 'Hosanna!'.  Soon afterwards we are with the same crowd, only hostile this time and shouting 'Crucify him!'  Can this really be the same crowd?  For that matter, could we be like that?  The answer is yes.  We human beings are deeply divided in ourselves.
On the one hand, we long for love, for goodness, for selflessness, for healing. We want these things not only for ourselves but for our world. We would like to be people who live by all that is best.  We want our actions to be motivated by kindness and true concern for the good of others. This is why the crowd was ecstatic when Jesus entered Jerusalem.  He represented all that was good, all that was holy.

They glimpsed in Christ the possibility of what they might be themselves, and for that matter, through his preaching of the kingdom they glimpsed what the world could be like if transformed by love.
On the other hand, we are frightened by the sheer holiness of God. We know that if the goodness, love and mercy of Christ are to be lived in us and through us, then our lives cannot be the same. There will be disruption to our normal, lazy, mixture of good and bad, generosity and selfishness. We will be challenged to the core of our being. We must change, and change is often painful and threatening. No wonderthe crowd was hostile. They thought they knew what they wanted, and then turned on Jesus when he did not deliver in their own terms.

Jesus invites us to a different way. The Jesus who enters into Jerusalem knew perfectly well that he was beginning a process that would put a price on his head.

But he carried on, because he believed in you and me. He believed that if we would only open ourselves to God's love, then we would find all that we were seeking most deeply in our lives. May it be so.

Fr Terry is Parish Priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Brook Green, west London.   His new book:  Ronald Knox and English Catholicism is published by Gracewing at £12.99 and is available on Amazon, from religious booksellers and from the publisher.
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