For the Lenten season, this article will describe each day of the week leading up to the death and Resurrection of Jesus almost 2000 years ago. We will also consider the implications of that first Holy Week for our lives today. For the events of the life of Jesus are not merely historical occurrences from the past, but are with us and guide our lives in the world today.
On that first Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the prophesy of Zechariah that the saving King would enter the city of God humbly on a beast of burden, rather than on the conquering horse, camel or chariot. The crowds welcomed Him with palms and covered the ground with garments to give Him their version of the red carpet. They acclaimed out “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” as we do before the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass.
It was the Passover Week, the highest celebration of the Jewish calendar; and there may have been a half million people in the city, not only Jews, but also Gentiles who understood that the Jews worshiped the true God. The leaders in Jerusalem were, by contrast, nervous and largely jealous of the honor the crowds were giving to Jesus; and they told Him to put an end to it. He simply responded that if they did not give Him honor, the very stones would proclaim glory to God, as the stones and construction of churches have done throughout the ages, bearing strong, silent witness to the glory of the greater kingdom in the midst of a distracted and noisy world.
Hopefully, when we remember the joy and praise that the people of Jerusalem gave Jesus in the classical age, we ourselves are inspired to celebrate His presence among us with great enthusiasm and a desire to journey with Him. In fact, we have Jesus with us more than they did long ago. For, Jesus is with us in every Catholic church under the humble appearance of bread and wine. He joins us in our prayers; He guides us by the words of Scriptures and the teachings of the Church and the saints; and we serve Him through those who are least in the eyes of the world. If we continue to welcome Jesus with enthusiasm and joy on earth, He will receive us with an even greater glory in life everlasting.