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April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday

 

The days are being fulfilled when Jesus will bring to an end His earthly journey, when He will be raised on the royal throne of the cross.

For this reason, the Lord goes up to Jerusalem, but He cannot enter it like all other times, like all other pilgrims.

Jesus enters it with the clear awareness that it is time to reveal His royal and messianic identity to all: He enters the holy city as a king, as the Messiah.

In other passages, the Gospels tell that the crowds wanted to hail Jesus as their king (Jn 6:15), but that he always avoided their demand. Not this time, not only does not avoid, but in fact he prepares the events for this royal entrance to happen.

Jesus knows very well that there in a few days He will conclude His Passion, and only now can He be sure that His gesture will not be misunderstood.

He enters as a king not to command, not to lord it over, not to overthrow the existing power, not to establish a new political power; but to say that Israel’s great messianic expectation is fulfilled, that the new covenant between God and His people now takes place in a definitive way.

First of all, He does not enter on foot.

Pilgrims could enter only on foot, while to the King the honor was reserved of entering it on a mount. Jesus, who is King, chooses a poor and docile mount: not a horse, symbol of strength and power, but an ass with her colt (Mt 21:2); a symbolic reference very evident in so many kingly and messianic passages of the Old Testament.

A king, when he traveled, had the right to take for himself everything that he and his entourage needed. Jesus does not take, does not usurp, he simply asks to borrow (Mt 21:3), like a pauper. And He is keen to ensure that he will return it soon, as soon as He will have fulfilled His mission.

The people of Jerusalem and the pilgrims present in the holy city appear to understand this gesture, to the point that the whole city is shocked for this reason (Mt 21:10): something truly great is about to happen!

Now, all the gestures that Jesus performs during these last days are gestures of a true king.

What was expected from the coming of the King-Messiah?

Basically, it was expected that he would sit in judgment of the people, that he would bring life and peace, and that he would defeat the enemy; and at the arrival of the messianic times a great banquet would have been set for all people. The messianic oracles had inflamed this hope in Israel’s expectation.

Indeed, Jesus will really do all this.

The Messiah king who now enters Jerusalem will judge all people, seated on the throne of the cross.

He will judge them worthy of His love and Salvation, and the rejection and misunderstanding will not suffice to make him back down from this judgment: it is a definitive judgment.

He will judge that the life of every man will be worth more than His; that He will have at heart the destiny of every man more than His.

He will not be a king jealous of his own privileges; He will not need to show His authority by force.

He will bow down to serve each one, as a servant serves his master, because He wants each one to know that he also is a king.

He will bring peace, or rather, will defeat man’s real enemy, which is sin, death. And He will do it not by war nor by using violence with anyone, but by taking on Himself all the evil, all the rejection, all the world’s sin. Nothing will remain outside of this infinite embrace.

He will defeat death not by running away from it but by entering into it, letting himself be taken by its shackles. But since He will do it for love, death will have no power over Him, because all that is love is stronger than death. And peace will come from there, from a reconciliation given equally to all, without merit, which makes us all brothers equally.

This King, so different from the others, does not enter into His city to take the life of His people, He does not come to exploit. He comes to give His life for all. And this great messianic banquet that all awaited is realized beyond every possible human desire, when the Lord will take Himself and give Himself as food, as a source of life for every person.

All this will happen in the coming days, but it will not be obvious: we will need a new gaze to be able to see it.

Will we recognize, in these days, behind the apparent defeat of the cross, the exploits of a victorious and glorious King? And will we be able to see the same kingly signs already present in our lives and in the lives of those who are near us?

+Pierbattista

Original version in italian

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