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Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Holy Week Begins...Who is Jesus For You?

Scripture Reflection:

“As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If this day you only knew what makes for peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42, NAB)

“Tell ye the daughter of Sion: Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of her that is used to the yoke.” (Matthew 21:5, Douay Rheims)

“…a great multitude that was to come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.” (John 12:12-13, Douay Rheims)

“As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen.  They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”” (Luke 19:36-38, NAB)

Simply Ponder:
I am no theologian, neither am I a biblical scholar.  I am a mere layman, a pilgrim, trying to figure out most of the time, and find meaning to my short journey through life.  As philosophical as it may sound, my hope is that these simple sharing will move many others to travel more meaningfully along the same road…that God will continue to use us, His humble instruments, for His greater glory.

Throughout this Season of Lent, I have been constantly challenged, examined and 'washed' by each of the reflections posted for the Via Dolorosa.  My own over-familiarity with the 14 Stations of the Cross has resulted in much more time being taken to wait, listen and ponder anew, afresh and deeper, each holy step of Jesus towards the summit of Golgotha.

I am grateful, by God’s merciful grace that eleven stations have been posted so far over the weeks of Lent.  I humbly pray that, by simply sharing these, you too will be able to enter into the presence of God and that these reflections can move you to find greater meaning for your own journey…awakening afresh the Word of God that has always been embedded deep within your being.

This blog is almost a year old and it is an extremely humbling experience for me to note 12 followers on this blog so far; reminiscent of the first twelve disciples…mere fishermen…  I pray that this simple community of pilgrims can continue to multiply as we gather here simply to encourage each other on the journey through life.

I continously pray that I am able to serve you, wherever you may be, in a ‘simplyquiet’ way so that God, and only God, can increase as your perfect companion on this journey.  I thank you all for sustaining me and giving me strength…thank you for allowing me to 'wash' the dusty sandals of your hearts.

After so many days of Lent…of preparation, we have arrived at the peak of Golgotha, the Sixth Sunday of Lent, the beginning of the Holy Week, heading towards the Easter Triduum; a time devoted to quiet prayer time and contemplation of the greatest Love of all.

Palm Sunday or Passion (in Latin, ‘to suffer’) Sunday commemorates the commencement of the Holy Week…Jesus’ final stretch of agonizing, but redeeming, journey to the Cross.  The color switches from ‘purple’ to ‘red’, symbolic of the shedding of the Precious Blood of Christ…the death of Jesus…  Who is Jesus really to you?

“…Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Luke 9:18, NAB)

“…who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29, NAB)

Is Jesus the son of Joseph…a simple carpenter?  Or would He be the son of Mary…a quiet woman? Jesus, the Son of Man, the Son of God…knows that He only has this last week to be with His people…so much to do…so much to say…so much to share.

This Holy Week, come into His presence; tell Him in your own way how much you love Him?  Tell Him in your own way what He means to you?

This day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey or ass…simply emphasizing the servanthood and simple humility that characterizes His Kingdom; a dimension which the crowd and even most of His disciples have yet to understand.

No majestic horse, no white stallion, no palace servants, no great army…a mere donkey!  Throngs of people gathered to welcome Him.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold Thy King will come to thee, the just and Savior: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9, Douay Rheims)

(Donkeys are simply working animals, transporting materials, carrying cargo on their backs.  Donkeys are stubborn but once a person earns its confidence, they become willing and companionable partners.

The donkey is likely to have transported Mary to Bethlehem, paid homage at the manger, facilitated the infant Jesus escape to Egypt and served the Holy Family with their carpentry business. Donkeys serve.)

Palms, the royal symbol of beauty, majesty, prosperity and perhaps victory, as in the days of King Solomon, were laid out in Jesus’ path entering into Jerusalem, welcoming Him.

The crowd equated Jesus with the many earthly kings ruling over their land, their nations…they wanted a great king who will bring them victory over the Romans.

Little did they know, despite witnessing the many ministries of Jesus, that He came not to rule them, but simply to serve, wash their feet and rule their hearts…turning them God-ward.

“The walls on all sides of both the inner and the outer rooms had…palm trees” “The doors were overlaid with gold, which was also molded to the cherubim and the palm trees.” “…carved cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, over which gold was evenly applied.” (1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35, NAB)

The words of prophet Jeremiah echo in the heart of Jesus.

“Pay attention to this, foolish and senseless people who have eyes and see not, who have ears and hear not.” (Jeremiah 5:21, NAB)

Nevertheless, these thoughts were drowned by the fervent cries from the hungry crowd – Save us now!  Please save us now!  They have suffered and waited long enough for the chosen one to save them.

Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” (Matthew 21:9, NAB)

Quietly and silently, Jesus already knew that He must die this week to ‘save’ them.

Even knowing of His impending death on the Cross, He never thought about Himself…  He will very much miss His earthly papa, Joseph, who joked with Him, played with Him, taught Him all there is to know about handling carpentry wood, beams and all the tools of the trade…hammer and nails, stewardship of creation.  Jesus will miss very much the love of His mama, Mary, the teasing, the hugs, the comforting words, the cheeky and naughty times, the many teachings of scripture, the prayers she taught Him, the quiet contemplation, the listening.  Yes, Jesus, you were human, like each one of us…you are our brother…our faithful companion.

However, in this same Holy Week, looming in the horizon, we will find that the chief priests and the teachers of the law scheming and conspiring for a way to get rid of Jesus, to remove Him from their lives, to kill Him because they feared Him; Jesus threatens their security, their status quo, their position, their comfort zone, their lives.

The people of Jerusalem wanted Jesus to ‘free’ them, not knowing that Jesus actually brings about a freedom so precious that the world cannot understand, a love so great that the world cannot comprehend, a Kingdom so eternal.

Towards the end of this Holy Week, the same crowd who welcomed Jesus and cried “Hosanna! Hosanna!” will furiously chase Jesus out of Jerusalem to the deadly tune of “Crucify him! Crucify him!”...  From the royal palms to the place of the skulls!

This Holy Week, do not fall attentive, make it different, make it awesome for your faith journey.

Who is Jesus for you? What meaning does Jesus bring into your life?

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