It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

Author Unknown

Saturday, March 15, 2008



My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Matthew 27: 46

The Passion narrative in Matthew paints a scene of humiliation. The great Jesus of Nazareth hung from a cross. He was abandoned by his closest followers, arrested alone, judged and executed in a swift manner. Yet, Jesus did not give up hope. He shares that hope with us for our darkest times

His earthly beginning was frightfully humble. And his earthly end would be no different. The wood of the manger prefigured the wood of the cross.

Jesus was not compelled to do it. He willingly lowered himself in his birth, in his ministry, in his death. No one took his life from him. He freely laid down his own life. Others did not have the chance to humble him; he humbled himself

From beginning to end, the details are humiliating. No room in the inn. Born amidst the stench of a stable. Hunted by Herod’s henchmen. Growing up in a far-flung province of the Roman Empire--Galilee, the land where the country accent is so thick, you can cut it with a knife

Jesus prepared to eat the Passover with his disciples on "the first day of Unleavened Bread" (Mt 26:17a). This was an agricultural feast that coincided with Passover, which commemorated the deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The meal probably took place on the evening before the first day of Passover.

During this time, Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' own disciples, agreed to betray Jesus for the petty sum of "thirty pieces of silver" (v 15), the compensation for a wounded slave (Ex 21:32). During the ritual action of the Passover Feast, Jesus gave his own body and blood to his disciples as food and drink.

Then singing songs of praise (the Hallel Psalms 113-118), Jesus set out to the "Mount of Olives" (Mt 26:30) where death lay ahead. Though Peter affirmed his undying loyalty, Jesus declared that he too would deny him three times before "before the cock crows" (v 34, the dawn). In the garden of Gethsemane, meaning "olive-press," Jesus prayed alone in agony to accept the suffering and death that awaited him. Jesus was arrested and his followers deserted him. In the morning, the religious leaders conferred against Jesus, and handed him over to be tried by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.

Does the King of glory find a welcome entry in your home and heart? Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing full well what awaited him -- betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion. The people of Jerusalem, however, were ready to hail him as their Messianic King! Little did they know what it would cost this king to usher in his kingdom. Jesus' entry into Jerusalem astride a colt was a direct fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah (9:9): Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, and riding on an ass and upon a colt the foal of an ass. The colt was a sign of peace. Jesus enters Jerusalem in meekness and humility, as the Messianic King who offers victory and peace to his people. That victory and peace would be secured in the cross and resurrection which would soon take place at the time of Passover

When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, the crowds strew palms at his feet crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" (21:9). Now the crowds shouted, "Let him be crucified!" (27:23).

Jesus was mocked, beaten and led away to be executed between two criminals on Golgotha ("Place of a Skull" or "Calvary" in English). On the cross, Jesus felt abandoned by all, even by God. When the Roman Centurion witnessed Jesus’ death, he could not deny that "this man was God's Son!" (27:54).

This Sunday we hold palm branches in our hands, and wave them to greet our Lord's entry into the city of our salvation. Last year's palms were burned to form the ashes that marked our foreheads to begin this Lenten journey. We can place these palm branches - perhaps from each member of the family - in a special place in our home (maybe cutting a small piece and putting it some place where I work).

Each day this week they can represent our celebration of his love for me. That symbol can say so many words - all that I am about to celebrate and accept as love for me, and all the entry into Jerusalem experiences in my life.

Hosanna to you, Son of David,

King of the ages,-hosanna to you,

victor over death and the powers of darkness.

You went up to Jerusalem to suffer

and so enter into your glory,

-lead your Church into the paschal feast of heaven.

You made your cross the tree of life,

- give its fruit to those reborn in baptism.

Savior of mankind, you came to save sinners,

- bring into your kingdom

all who have faith, hope, and love.

'On Ya' ma

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