Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Pilgrimage – Holy Week – Palm Sunday – Cycle A – Matt 21:1-11
Christ’s deliberate preparation to fully reveal Himself to the world in the Passion and Resurrection continues with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the Passover (likely date: April 3, 33 A.D.). Withdrawing from Jerusalem after raising Lazarus to avoid the Jewish leadership’s plot to kill Him (John 11), Christ returns just before Passover and waits in the small town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives just east of Jerusalem. Christ directs two disciples to fetch a donkey and colt from a nearby village, mysteriously knowing the animals are waiting for Him.
Christ purposefully enters Jerusalem in a provocative and symbolic way to announce the salvation of His coming Kingdom. Kings in the ancient Middle East entered conquered cities leading a symbolic procession on a warhorse. Rather than riding a warhorse, Christ fulfills centuries-old Hebrew prophecies (Isa 62:11; Zech 9:9) by humbly entering Jerusalem on a peaceful donkey as an announcement of salvation. Christ replays and perfects King Solomon’s entry into Jerusalem a thousand years before: both are “Sons of David”, both ride a humble animal (donkey/mule) and both enter Jerusalem and are greeted by ecstatic crowds.
As Christ begins the procession into Jerusalem on the colt, huge crowds of pilgrims lay their garments on the ground for Christ to trod upon, signifying they consider that Christ is their king (2 Kings 9:13). Knowing that Jesus’ name means “God saves”, the crowds shout “Hosanna” (Hebrew, meaning “Save Us”). Calling Christ the Son of David, a title for the Messiah, the crowds cry, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”, a mysterious irony for Christ is the Lord. Achieving His purpose, Christ’s entry causes an uproar throughout Jerusalem, setting the stage for His saving Passion and Resurrection.
1) Despite the Jewish leadership’s determination and power to kill Him, Christ enters Jerusalem when the most pilgrims are in Jerusalem in the most provocative way possible. Marvel at Christ’s commitment to His mission and His remarkable courage.
2) Those who greet Christ as He enters Jerusalem, worship Him with their whole being, laying down their garments at His feet. During Lent, commit to Sacrifice for Christ (CCC 2099-2100) and pray for Christ to help you lay down everything in your life for Him.
3) Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem is re-presented in the Mass. During Lent, reflect upon the Sanctus in the Mass (CCC 559) and experience a heartfelt joy for Christ’s gift of the Eucharist.