Clergy Notes — Palm Sunday, March 24, 2024

So the Great Week begins.

Jesus enters Jerusalem, to the delight of the crowd who fête him as King, waving branches before him, and crying out, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ Their hope is that in Jesus God’s promises of old will be fulfilled: King Jesus will claim his throne, banish the Roman occupiers, and re-establish the glory of Israel. God’s promises of old will indeed be fulfilled, but not in the way many were expecting.

Jesus’ triumphal entry manages to provoke the religious authorities, the puppet-King Herod, and the Roman Governor. These then conspire to turn the fickle crowd against Jesus, now the trouble-maker; joyful hope and expectation become mockery and condemnation.

Yet this is God’s self-revelation, God’s way of vulnerable self-giving, even, as St. Paul writes to the Philippians, to death on the Cross. God’s way in Jesus is not to take power, to rule, by force, but to give himself freely in love ‘for us and for our salvation’: his throne is a cross, and his crown of thorns.

Charles Wesley puts it powerfully in his hymn ‘And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?’:

He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

St Paul then declares that the Father vindicates this way of loving: ‘God therefore highly exalted him, and gave him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.’

Where do we stand this Holy Week? What is our response?

In the words of Isaac Watts, another hymn-writer: ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.’

With every blessing at this holy time,
Fr Kevin

Download the Liturgy at Home booklet for Sunday, March 24, 2024.