It’s a short journey: from the city center up to Golgotha. Jesus’ crucifixion took place a few hundred meters from the Temple, and less than 2 kilometers from Gethsemane. And yet, so much has happened in that short space and time
This week we are being invited to walk with Jesus. To participate, rather than being mere spectators. We too are called to do the journey and allow ourselves to be part of the story.
First we enjoy the Hosanna and bask in the glory of the moment. There is a sense of achievement, a sense of victory. Many would have thought that it’s mission accomplished – the one who came to save the world has achieved to do what he came for. The crowds are with him and, let’s face it, having witnessed so many miracles, it couldn’t be otherwise. Who doesn’t like a free meal of bread and fish, or some wine magically made from pure water? Not to talk of the healings and, yes, the bringing back of dead people to life.
But Jesus’ glory was not of this world, he had told that crowd over and over again. This is not what he came for. Things change, and the same crowd that sings Hosanna yells “crucify him” a mere four days later. Our challenge is to stay with him, to continue with the journey. His disciples fled. Those whom he had personally chosen, through whom he had planned to expand his mission, were too confused and too scared to witness what was happening. They just could not handle it. The man who had given them so much hope, so much to look forward to, is now being mocked, shoved and pushed all over the place, and eventually sentenced to death. All this makes no sense! They feel disillusioned, betrayed, fooled. So, they flee.
Mary stays. For her, too, all this does not make any sense. She too had heard some wonderful promises about her offspring thirty-three years earlier. How does all this fit into the story? Frankly, it doesn’t. Not if we do not manage to go beyond Golgotha, and the brand-new tomb. In spite of the confusion, Mary stays, and deep down believes that, in some incomprehensible way, this is part of the story.
Without rushing into the conclusion which we know so well, let us take time to stay with Jesus along the way. Let us feel the excruciating pain of the whips, the rod, the wood, the thorns, the nails. Moreover, let us try to feel that much bigger pain of the loneliness and the abandonment.
Having journeyed all the way with Jesus, Saturday night’s victory will then be sweeter. The Resurrection is not the denial of death, of the power of evil. On the contrary, it acknowledges its existence and tells us that there’s something, or someone, more powerful than that.
As we celebrate our Palm Sunday liturgies, as we listen in the same liturgy the narrative of the passion story, let us allow our Hosanna and Blessed to gush out from the depth of our hearts. This is not a denial of our own pain and suffering, or a running away from it. It is an anticipation of what is yet to happen: during next weekend’s celebrations.