Homily at St. Paul’s-on-the-Hill, Ossining, NY April 13, 2014
It was a great day when Jesus entered Jerusalem. Everyone was swept up in it. You could join in the crowd and just enjoy this famous person, this rock star come to town. It seemed easy, this Kingdom of God stuff. It’s all about being happy and part of the crowd, right?
A week later, there was another crowd, not so happy, but at least as compelling. With another easy answer: crucify him.
It’s not enough just to join a crowd and flow along with feelings of fun or admiration or anger or fear. The prophets of Israel often acted out symbolic actions to convey the message of God. Jesus was such a prophet, and it is clear that his entry into Jerusalem was such an action. He was riding a donkey colt—the messianic king, entering the capital was not on a horse or a chariot, but on the humble conveyance of ordinary people—no one ever heard of a war-donkey or donkey drawn chariots. In humility and peace he entered the city and confronted the powers, the Roman occupying army and the religious establishment that was allied with the Romans to maintain power for themselves. The crowds missed the Sign of the Kingdom of God in looking for a show.
We are moving quickly toward Easter, the Feast of the Resurrection. But the joy of that feast doesn’t come from the spirit of a party—“Hey-Sanna, Ho-Sanna, Sanna, Sanna, Ho”, but in Jesus complete and fearless giving of his life, his entirely loving life, for his people, the poor and the humble. For us.