The Palm Sunday Paradigm

Palm Sunday

… many believed in Him when they saw the signs which He did, but Jesus did not trust Himself to them, because He knew men. 

Palm Sunday is a bittersweet story because we know how it ends.

The same Jesus Who is greeted with hosannas at the start of the week, is betrayed with cries of “Crucify Him!” at the end of that week.

People will disappoint you, people will betray you, people will turn on you. That is the Palm Sunday paradigm and it is a fact of life.

The rest of that paradigm is that we — you and I — are the people in that statement.

I will disappoint. I will betray. I will turn on friends.

And so will you.

No one of us, no matter our station or our degree of piety, can traverse this life without being disappointed, betrayed, and turned on. Likewise, no one of us can traverse this life without disappointing, betraying and turning on others.

The point I am making is that Jesus was right when he told us, You can’t judge.

Can you imagine how we look to Him, with all our squabbling and finger-pointing? I can see Him, standing there, looking at the angry people around Him, upbraiding and shouting accusations at one another, “You, can’t judge,” He tells them. You, specifically you, with your many sins and fallen nature, can not judge.

To Jesus Christ, we must look like a bunch of toddlers, shoving and punching over a toy.

And that is the message of Palm Sunday. We, who say we love Him so much, will say “Crucify Him!” ourselves. Those of us who live in this time will not literally stand before Pilate, gazing at the physical wreckage of the Man who has been beaten almost to death, standing there bleeding and wearing a crown of thorns and shout “Crucify Him!”

We will live that betrayal of all that’s holy in our cruelties and petty meannesses to one another.

We hurt one another so savagely and so completely without remorse. I published a post a couple of days ago, in which I linked to a video of Pope Francis, giving a powerful homily against the sin of gossip. An enclosed place like the Vatican is probably honeycombed with destructive gossip.

I think all churches are. We exclude and isolate one another with our spiteful gossiping. And we don’t do it by accident. Gossip is as much a deliberate and destructive attack on another person as actually, physically, hitting them.

There are, of course, far splashier ways to betray our intimate others than gossip. Adultery comes to mind as a for instance.

The point is that Jesus, when He stood beside Pilate, beaten, humiliated and alone, was us. He stood in for humanity, suffering at the hands of humanity. He was raped, trafficked, starved, homeless, aborted, euthanized, murdered, battered, slandered, cast out, cast off, dehumanized suffering humanity.

When we go to church and proclaim our pious Christianity, we are the crowds shouting hosanna as He enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

When we turn on, betray and abandon one another, we are the crowd, standing before Pilate.

When someone betrays you or hurts you, remember that Our Lord understands everything you feel. Take your humiliated rage to Him and ask for His help.

On the other hand, when you do these things to other people, you should likewise take your sin to Him.

He Who committed no sin became sin for our sake. He understands the separation from God, the empty darkness of self-righteous self-justification that sin brings into our hearts. He Who committed no sin became sin for our sake. He knows what we suffer because of our sins. He understands the plunging depths of separation from God and the darkness that enters our souls because of our sins.

Take your sins to Him and ask for His forgiveness.

Whether your are doing your turn as the sinner or you are going through a time as the one sinned against, remember that you can and will exchanges places many times over the course of your life. You will sin against other people, and they will sin against you.

There is only One Who understands the full depth of hopeless depravity that this is, and Who also has the power to free us of it and heal us from it.

The Palm Sunday paradigm is the paradigm of the crowd. It is a week, framed at one end with Hosannas! and at the other end with shouts of Crucify Him!

The Palm Sunday paradigm is us. All of us, without exception. It illustrates in stark black and white lines why, without a Savior, we are lost.

 

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    I’m in a parish where destructive gossip has torn the community apart, and we are just now rebuilding after several years of backbiting.

  • SisterCynthia

    yes, and amen.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    What a great post. Excellent!

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Manny.

  • Sus_1

    “He tells them. You, specifically you, with your many sins and fallen nature, can not judge.”

    This is exactly why I get so upset with the anti-homosexual posts and comments.

    • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

      I don’t know which posts you’re referring to, and I bet there are some that are judgemental, but most of the one’s I’ve seen here on Patheos Catholic are just advocating for legislation that we believe would make for a better society. No one is advocating persecution or prejudice toward homosexuals.

  • margaret1910

    I was in Kansas City on Palm Sunday. I have a daughter who has converted to Judaism. She went with me to Palm Sunday Mass, and then we visited with other family, went shopping and then back to her home. Of course, we turned our phones to silent for Mass, and forgot to change that.

    When we got back to her home, she checked her phone. Many, many messages worried about her, “Where are you?” “Are you ok?” “Please answer”..While we were out of communication, horrible shootings had happened at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, KS. Committed by a man who wanted to kill Jews. He failed to do that, but managed to kill two Methodists, a 14 year old boy and his grandfather, and a lovely Catholic woman.

    On Monday evening, we went to a wonderful Seder. The Passover Seder is all about sorrow, slavery, joy and freedom. I don’t think I will ever see Palm Sunday, Passover, Good Friday or Easter quite the same way again.


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