(At Palm Sunday Mass, because of time, I’ll just give a succinct version of the below)

Yet here is the whole reflection I wrote for myself of what Palm Sunday means.

“And when He was come near, He beheld the city Jerusalem, and wept over it   Luke19:41

On Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we ponder how sadly the Lord Jesus looked upon the so-named “the holy city” of Jerusalem. It was a final look at it before all the drama of His last week would unfold.

Jerusalem had been once named just Salem, meaning “peace place or city of peace.” We know it’s Hebrew word as Shalom. It was at this place where Abram and his people sojourned to from Ur. As guided by God to a “Holy Land.” It was in this city where Abram meet Melchizedek, Salem’s king. The shared belief in the One True God would be officially set now in Jerusalem. Here on its Mt. Moriah was where God once made a solemn covenant with Abram and his posterity, in that famed moment of utter trust of Abram to God. God said that the son of sacrifice was an ultimate offering, and it pleased God to say that it would not be Isaac but God’s Son Who would be sacrifice in this place one day. God supplied a ram in the thicket for Abram, and it was the sacrifice on Moriah that day. Abram’s name became Abraham—father of many nations. The city changed names now to “Jerusalem.” The small name change was Jeru or Yir’eh in Hebrew, meaning “He will see [to it].”  Jeru—He will see to it—God will see to it.” Joined to Salem, the city place of shalom. Jerusalem is prophetically translated as: God will see to it being/becoming His City of Peace.  Jerusalem did become the place where the Prince of Peace came to establish the new and final covenant of God. He, Jesus, will see to it that Peace is come between God and man, with forgiveness in His Body/Blood Sacrifice, in a worthy, perfect Son, the man-God as Sister Faustina writes about in the Divine Mercy revelation poems.

God will see to Peace coming via this Place.

Of what kind of peace was God affording? It was to a covenant relationship with God, rather than humanity remaining in a separation and distance from God and from one another. It was to one’s personal peace with God and being in community with others in the same promise of God. Rebellious humanity were of Babylon and its division and towers of pride.  Mt. Moriah at Jerusalem, and later Mount Calvary, was rather to be a place of peaceful humanity. The stark difference is made: choose the tower of pride of defiant humankind or choose the peace of Christ’ Sacrifice at Calvary in Shalom City.

Jerusalem was God’s choice as the place of the covenant to humanity from the God Who Saves. This plan was meant to spread out to Israel first, and later to spread out to all the world. The Hebrews received it; God and humankind could be living in peace here. The if/then promise of God came next with our part to respond humbly and of a heartfelt, honest manner.

What made Jesus cry over Jerusalem? The lack of respondents of a humble honest repentance to the Good News of God.  The infidelity of the Jews to past promises made of God to them in if/then offers. This had Jesus cry and weep. Surely, too, over so many lost souls there would be.

Yet He will give Love out to the world like never seen before when at The Cross, a proposal of love.  Like Hosea’s song, Jesus on the Cross was “come back to Me, with all your heart, don’t let fear keep us apart. Trees do bend, though straight and tall, so must we bend, to God’s great call.

Jesus establishes the New Covenant beginning with the Last Supper.  Take this–from My own brokenness—My body, given for you.  Take my blood of mercy—poured out for you—do this in memory of Me.

The New Manna of the New Passover is given out to His apostles, even as it is given out now in the Church, as we embrace God’s offer of salvation in Him.  John 6:40-41,51 quotes Jesus’ purposes here: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day… I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The communicant at Mass is believing and accepting they are being fed the Bread of Life that God gives.  “The Body of Christ.” “Amen.”    End — Part 1. Regular Homily.

Part 2— More to Think About.

It’s a challenge being the people of the covenant. God is looking for a real response to His loving kiss of covenant to us in Holy Communion. He had a similar expectation on Israel to His covenants.

An Old Testament example: 2nd Chronicles 7:14 says “IF My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from Heaven and heal their Land.”

Now our New Testament example: Colossians 3:1-4 IF THEN you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died to self, and your life is in mystery with Christ in God. When Christ your life (gloriously) appears, then you too will appear with Him (unto) glory.

As we note in today’s Gospel that Jesus wept, over infidelity of Israel and her lack of recognition to The Messiah—Then can we live so to let not Christ weep over us in any infidelity committed, in actions committed in great offense to Him and His promises to us? If we do dare so, then bid we go fast to confession, for the Bread of Life we eat is not congruent with a life of offending Him Whom we love and say we follow. Colossians 3:5,8-10,13-15 says it clearly of what Christ weeps over in His New Covenant followers: “Put to death that self that keeps fighting for the Me Life, the parts of you, then, that are earthly: immorality, impurity, lurid passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry… now you must put them all away, (as also to): anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Put on then, (rather) as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, some heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, (while) bearing with one another and forgiving one another…as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.

Remember our definition of the Name Jerusalem?  It was “God will see to it being/becoming His City of Peace.”   Jesus established the New Covenant of Peace in His Name, right there in Jerusalem.

In His Ascension address, He then said: Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teaching them all that I have handed on to you to obey. Showing them how “I AM with you” now till the end of the world—My Presence is with you—Immanuel.

Are we this Church of Jesus Christ?  It is our commission from Jesus to be it.  

Part 3 —The Struggle of Covenant keeping.

Yet humanity had a difficult time of it, starting with the chosen people Israel, with their sin getting in the way of receiving and living forth God’s promise of peace. Grave sin. Ruinous sin. Prideful sin.

Yet God did not give up on us, for God keeps to His promises. King David points it out in the 122nd Psalm which has one of the great “asks” or challenges for people to do. He says that people of faith and prayer are called to seek this Peace of God. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may those who love you prosper.” Psalm 122:6.   Or, really, David says we should pray for that what was started in covenant to Abraham to become realized as ours: a peace with God and a peace with others and self—all born from the gift of faith alive in us.

We are a people of faith going back to Mt. Moriah and in living in Abraham’s model. We are a people begun in Jerusalem by the mighty deeds of The Lord Jesus and of His Spirit coming at Pentecost.  We ought to live in this dignity.

The City of Peace looked far from its naming or reputation when Jesus would come near and behold its condition and of its failed faith in God. It says in there in Luke 19 how Jesus thus wept over Jerusalem. He had big tears of disappointment for this case of Jerusalem’s poor 33 a.d. condition.  The Jewish people had not responded well through her two millennia of time to do so, up to Christ’ coming among them; and now that Messiah had come as Word made flesh, the people mostly still did not accept Him or be interested in restoring the covenant promises. Yet Jesus had come to do that.  It would be a body and blood sacrifice covenant, much like He told Abraham he’d do one day. That day was now.

Jesus had met much resistance among His own “chosen” people. In fact, His message of repentance was debated, His authority questioned, and His ministry ridiculed as non-needed. It all would come to the awful point now (as the Gospel of Passion Sunday tells) of how Jewish leaders were plotting His death. Jesus could feel that His Sacrifice was imminent. He wept over the situation at hand. He was heard to say as overlooking the Holy City: “If you had just known, even at least, in this day, when the Christ is come, of the things which belong to your peace, O Jerusalem!  But now they are hid from your eyes.  For the days shall come upon you, in this city, when enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you around, and… they shall destroy it, not leaving a stone unturned, all because you knew not the time of your visitation from God.”   That is a very teary word about broken faith and promises on humanity’s part, so far, in that time almost two thousand years ago.  Jesus wept sums it up.

Jesus sees prophetically the coming destruction of Jerusalem by its present occupying force, the Romans. The Roman occupation was a sad thing, too, to see it in Jerusalem, and Jesus knew their present occupation was happening all because of Israel’s infidelity to God’s covenant as to be a holy nation, to be a people set apart. Since 587 b.c. foreign powers were in Israel running things. The divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel before had each fallen, by a great lapse of godly faith and lack of unity under God. Interestingly, the Jews were then exiled and carted off to the land of Babel, the land of confusion, where humanity famously divided and fell into confusion of tongues.

Some period later called the post-exile, Jews came back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and temple, if even in a scaled-down way. Do you know those stories of Ezra, Nehemiah and Haggai when the Jews did get some hope going for the “City of Peace” again and for “God’s Covenant to get restored there, somehow, under foreign occupation?

Then God Himself comes to live among us as man. The seemingly impossible hope for the City of Peace to deliver, and for God’s covenant to be lived and kept, it comes in this wondrous story of Jesus Christ.

He will see to it being/becoming the City of Peace.  (Remember how that is what the name Jerusalem means?) The covenant and the peace is made, only through a Great Cost of Jesus’ Life to bring if forth. Peace comes by the Blood of His Cross. The covenant was coming via a Lamb of God Savior. He’ll be the Suffering Servant of Isaiah’s great prophecy. He’ll bring a covenant of love via His own Self, as Pope John Paul II would call this Prince of Peace in Jesus. Paul to the Colossians laid it all down that this Gift of God could only come from God’s Son Himself among us. Hear this from chapter 1 of Colossians (vs. 19 and on): “For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all things for Him, making peace by the blood of his cross [through Him]… And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds He has now reconciled in His fleshly body through His death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before Him.”

Do you realize just how Catholic that whole text is? It’s because it is the original blueprint of this Jerusalem hope, where it happened with Peter and the apostles, Mary, Mary Magdalene, the Bethany sisters, Lazarus, and all those of the First Church, which still abides in earth in us!

Part 4: So here we are today…

You are on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.

Jesus takes the ascent to Jerusalem. He is a few miles away from Jerusalem at this start of a palm parade, going up to visit the Temple with this Hosanna-singing crowd. Jesus knows Jerusalem’s name means “God will see to it being the City of Peace.”  Indeed, God’s Son will see to it becoming the place to which it’s named. There is a salvation plan afoot with God in this final ascent of the Messiah. Jesus can see a Cross waiting for Him in Jerusalem.  It is just days away, in fact.  Peace will come via Jesus’ Sacrifice. We Catholics believe this Passion, Death and Resurrection is of vital importance. We have “Holy Week” for it all. Outside of Jesus, God’s Son and Mediator, there is no salvation. Acts 2:38, Acts 4:12.  So we come to Him in liturgy and prayer and love. He wants us to be with Him in memory of His great works for us.

We as a Catholic Church marks these final days of Our Lord Jesus in ministry. Today is marked as The Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, with just five days to Good Friday and the Eternal Sacrifice given by Him, and for peace and reconciliation with God to be afforded. Thus, this is not any normal week. It’s Holy Week.  It’s Covenant-making Peace time week with Jesus and rejoicing for those repentant sinners who want His grace poured out upon us for salvation promise.

The ascent of Jesus to Jerusalem starts down in Bethany and then on to Bethpage.  Bethany is the site where Jesus wept another time, as John 11 records, at the death of Lazarus, His good friend. Lazarus was in a tomb, but Jesus gives the sign that He has victory over death as he raised the good man Lazarus there in Bethany.  Now comes His time to process up toward a death and a tomb for Himself, but with Jesus knowing that He would be raised up in the glory of God the Father. Jesus would go up to the Mount in Jerusalem like Abraham once did for sacrifice.  This time he is the Lamb of Sacrifice to be offered. So like the bread and wine of King Melchizedek would share long ago in Jerusalem with Abraham, Jesus takes up bread and wine for a celebration covenant meal. Like Moses and the Passover meal, Jesus would also incorporate this

Jesus’ march up to Jerusalem will be to revive the many of the world.  He would do it through sacrifice.  There is more than the one Lazarus to save now, but it is an action of Jesus coming to save all in need of salvation out of death.   At Bethany’s tomb, Jesus had shown His power over death in this instance, but now Jesus goes forth up to the Holy City as so to enter death as the Perfect Lamb of Sacrifice.  This all will take place, fittingly, right near the place in Jerusalem where Abraham went up with Isaac for the obedient sacrifice, long ago, and when God intervened, then, and declared:  “God will provide the sacrifice, the Lamb, yes, even of His Only Son, as you were willing to do today.  Yes.  Abraham—your faith has pleased God, and so God offers back a covenant to humanity to save it.    Genesis 22.

The procession begins.   Jesus goes out into the streets, surrounded by a crowd of supporters, and they go up to Jerusalem for its approaching holy days.   Some in the crowd, as probably Judas, as well as some other people who saw Lazarus’ miracle, they likely thought Jesus was now going to unveil and use many hidden powers in Him for a political or military use ahead, to re-take Jerusalem for the Jews—as He’ll somehow become the new King David.  They are very mistaken in that Messianic idea of Him.

Jesus goes along with the crowd to a wave of palm branches and a chorus of hosannas, with an enthused crowd on the ascending road of Bethany and Bethpage, ultimately heading to a west gate of Jerusalem city.

In a complete contrast, also coming to Jerusalem, from the west to east direction, comes a powerful army of reinforcements of Roman soldiers, called to keep order and control over the city in its large crowds of Jewish pilgrims headed there.   So, from the east, loud noises of chariots, horses, and soldiers marching in clanking armor and brute force, but from the west, one man astride a simple animal, and people holding palms.

On one hand, the power of the world at that time (as they thought of themselves) arrives at Jerusalem. On the other hand, our Savior, the real Power of the world and one with an everlasting kingdom of unity, peace, love and gladness comes up with simple folk in a Hosanna parade.

It will all be spectacle for now, but Jesus is announcing His way of confronting sin and death and the evil one of the world. He is God’s Son come into the world to destroy the devil’s works (1 John 3:8).  Jesus was about the deliver death its death blow, but Satan did not see it coming  (1 Cor. 15:26). Death is swallowed up in victory by what God’s Son is to do there in Jerusalem. Nothing will stop it. Love conquers all.

So, Jesus rides on to Jerusalem with all of this in mind.    Two verse in the Bible points out how Jesus knew His tears of sadness would turn to tears of joy:   A prophetic Psalm speaks of the turn-around coming, and then a Revelation to John the apostle shows it carried out.  “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).  And when that morning comes, “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4).

Resurrection Morning—a week away—was coming.   There was Victory beyond the Cross.


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