The Son of God, Messiah, the Hope of Israel enters Jerusalem on a donkey.

As we enter this Holy Week – the most solemn and intense period of worship in the Christian calendar – we remember that it begins with supreme joy as Jesus entered Jerusalem as the fulfilment of the long-promised salvation of Israel.

To the Romans, palm leaves were a symbol of victory and of military prowess. The Jews who greeted their Messiah were simply echoing this practice, perhaps drawing on 1 Maccabees where it is recorded that the people waved palm branches to celebrate the independence of Jerusalem and Judea.

But what kind of messiah parades in triumph on a donkey?

The One who was born of a woman?

The One who was slain in a manger?

The One who emptied Himself in humility?

The One who was soon to die on a cross, where His grace simultaneously fuses the joy of his triumph with the profound sorrow of his death. The Passion Gospel is forever in the background of the Hosannas of the people – a people who could never have foreseen what would befall their Messiah just a week later. They yearned for a king who would proclaim Israel’s independence from Rome; they wanted a Messiah who would be their religio-political hero; they wanted a Jesus who would fulfil their religious expectations and affirm their political agendas.

This final Sunday of Lent is a time to pause from temporal concerns and reflect on the fact that little has changed in two millennia. Even today, those who believe in Christ want a certain kind of Jesus; a certain type of Messiah – one who will anoint a certain sort of leader or bless a particular form of politics or prosper a very particular war; one who will be ‘on our side’ against all the opposition, foreign and domestic. We seek a Messiah who will affirm our notions of truth and ratify our interpretations of Scripture; one who will follow us conveniently as we direct our own paths in this brief pilgrimage through life.

What kind of success, wealth, reputation or respect is represented by a donkey?

 

Stations of the Cross, also called Way of the Cross, is a series of 14 pictures or carvings portraying events in the Passion of Christ, from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate to his entombment. The series of stations is as follows: (1) Jesus is condemned to death, (2) he is made to bear his cross, (3) he falls the first time, (4) he meets his mother, (5) Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross, (6) Veronica wipes Jesus’ face, (7) he falls the second time, (8) the women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus, (9) he falls the third time, (10) he is stripped of his garments, (11) he is nailed to the cross, (12) he dies on the cross, (13) he is taken down from the cross, and (14) he is placed in the sepulchre.

The devotional exercise of visiting and praying in front of each of the 14 stations and meditating on the Passion of Christ stems from the practice of early Christian pilgrims who visited the scenes of the events in Jerusalem and walked the traditional route from the supposed location of Pilate’s house to Calvary. The number of stations originally observed in Jerusalem was considerably smaller than 14. In the early 16th century, Ways of the Cross were established in Europe, and the tradition of 14 stations probably derived from the best known of them. The Franciscans long popularized the practice, and in the 18th century they bowed to Western Christian devotional feeling and provided 14 stations in Jerusalem.

A more recent addition, a Fifteenth Station, of the Resurrection, is sometimes marked. Having walked with Christ on his way of sorrows, stood with Mary and John at the foot of the cross, and with Joseph of Arimathea and the women buried his body, we come with Mary Magdalen to the empty tomb, to greet the Risen Lord and share in the joy of the resurrection.

Prayerful meditation through the Stations of the Cross is especially common during Lent and on Fridays throughout the year, in commemoration of Christ’s Crucifixion on Good Friday. The devotion may be done individually or in a group and is particularly important in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions. (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Stations-of-the-Cross-religion Accessed 3rd April 2019)

We will be walking the stations of the cross with music and prayer this Sun. April 7 at 4:00 pm. All are welcome and invited to attend.

Mother Lucy