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Meditation of Archbishop Pizzaballa: Palm Sunday, year C

Published: April 11 Thu, 2019

April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday, year C

The passage from the Gospel according to Luke that tells of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem presents a singular peculiarity: in fact, half of the story does not speak of Jesus entering the holy city, but of the preparations He puts in place to enter it. 

Therefore, the protagonist of the first scene is not so much Jesus as the apostles.

Why this choice of the evangelist?

I would say that with this choice, Luke is already talking about the Church that lives after Easter, about us. Jesus, entering Jerusalem, somehow “disappears”, and the Church appears in His place, sent to announce to everyone the Passover of her Lord. We can deduce all this from a series of elements.

First of all, Jesus sends: it is the verb of mission (Lk 19:29), which Luke has already used (Lk 9:2; 10:1) when Jesus sends His disciples among the nations, to bring to everyone the good news that the Kingdom is near.

He sends two, just as He did when He sent the seventy-two disciples, in chapter 10, sending them two by two.

And sending them, Jesus instructs them, just as he had taught them before sending them. The disciples will have to follow directions, just as Jesus gave directions when he sent them; they will have to trust that their Master’s Word will come true.

The disciples go, and everything takes place just as He had said (Lk 19:32).

During this mission, which is the life of the Church, it happens that someone asks the disciples the reasons for their behavior (Lk 19:31.33). And the disciples have no other reason than obedience to the Word of their Lord, who comes among His people as a humble and needy king. They ask why the Lord needs them.

This word, need, is the key word also of sending the disciples on the mission: according to the Word of the Lord, they had to go among the people as the needy, without bringing anything with them (9.3), trusting totally in those who would have accepted them. And Jesus foretold that, of course, someone would be rejected, but this would not prevent the disciples’ journey, the path of the Word of salvation.

What happens, from this entrance to Jerusalem onwards, will be nothing but the ultimate outcome of this humble and poor going among the people, of Jesus first and then His Church.

There are those who enthusiastically welcome, like the exultant crowd along the streets of Jerusalem (Lk 19:37). But there will also be, as we heard in the story of the Passion, those who will not welcome it.

Jesus comes to bring peace for everyone, as resounds on the lips of the crowd of disciples: “Blessed is he who comes, the king, in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven” (Lk 19:38). Peace was exactly what the disciples had to announce, entering any house: “In whatever house you enter, first say:” Peace to this house!” (Lk 10: 5). Jesus also announces it, entering Jerusalem.

And not only does He announce it, but he pays the price with his life, and this will be the glory of God that is fulfilled for man.

The Church will just have to announce this peace, acquired by the blood of Christ. And if someone wants to silence her (Lk 19.39), in any case, this announcement will resound and will find other ways to reach the heart of man. In fact, even death will no longer be able to silence him.

+ Pierbattista