The first gospel reading today hardly gets much attention, being outside and all. If the weather’s nice, that’s an attraction. If not, energy is utilized for shivering, not listening. Not to mention the powerhouse reading of the Passion, plus Paul’s Kenosis hymn. Or the third suffering servant song. Or even one of the finest offerings in the Psalter. Any one of those Scriptures is worth a substantive homily. Likely your preacher “kept it short” today. My pastor emphasized attending the Triduum.
Did you notice the acclamation at the entry to Jerusalem? Here it is:
Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.
Have a familiar ring? That’s right: the angelic proclamation to shepherds on Christmas night. (Image credit: Henry Ossawa Tanner’s Angels Appearing before the Shepherds.)
Luke the artist weaves an early theme from his Gospel and puts it right where we might want to reflect on it some more. If we have the ears to catch this subtlety. Jesus as king, but not only as the king foretold by prophecy and announced by angels in some strange mysterious way. Jesus is a new kind of king, but no less threatening to the powers of his day. The pharisees harp at the Lord, wanting this proclamation to be silenced. If Jesus were a political Messiah, it would have come to more than protests over a donkey-led procession. It would have been war. The zealots would have been happy.
As it is, we have no less a struggle, the ultimate triumph of good over evil, of grace over eternal lament. Believers have no need of picking fights to get noticed. Following Christ’s way is noticeable enough to conformists and naysayers.
Ponder also how quickly the mood turns. Within a half-hour of liturgy today, we go from waving palms and singing acclamations to the chant, “Crucify him!” Let it not turn so quickly on our lips, even in the worst of situations. May we keep the echo of the annunciation in all our music.