Soul Food for Sundays

Soul Food for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, 24th March 2024

Reflections 10th March 2024
Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39

The Author: Billy Cleary C.S.Sp.
calendar_today Date: March 5, 2024 - 2 minutes read

The Roman Governor of Judea enters Jerusalem from the West. He had grudgingly left his headquarters by the calm Mediterranean Sea to attend to his duties. He must oversee the affairs of state during the Jewish time of Passover and remind the troublesome population of Jerusalem and the many visitors to the city that, although they may commemorate Israel’s victory over Egypt, they remain a subjugated people under the heel of the mighty Roman Empire. Pilate’s military escort, and he in glittering armour astride a fearsome cavalry charger, confirms the merciless might of Rome.

From the East there is a more welcome entry to Jerusalem. Riding on a donkey, Jesus, hailed as a messiah, a prince of peace, is welcomed with cries of “Hosanna.”

“Hosanna” is a Hebrew word which translates as “save now!” The people are expecting a saviour and look to Jesus as the one to deliver them from the tyranny of Rome and everything else that oppresses them in body and spirit. Expectations are high. The ancient promise of the prophets is to be fulfilled. Perhaps today, perhaps now, perhaps here.

The longing for such blessing overflows in chants and cheers. Cloths, aprons and rags all provide a colourful patchwork of welcome for the expected one to cross over. While Pilate’s entourage charges forward raising only dust, Jesus by contrast, riding on a donkey, raises hope and joy in the hearts of those who welcome him. Waving palm branches, they sing and they dance, shouting out what they sense deep within themselves, that God is with them.

There is an urgency in the welcome that He received, “Hosanna!”

As it was then, so it is for us today as we celebrate Palm Sunday at a time of increasing global conflict and an apparently unequal struggle to protect our planet.

The cry “Save Now!” rises up in us. We, Christian people, call on the incarnate God who entered Jerusalem on a donkey so many years ago, to come once more as life-giving Spirit, calming our fears and renewing our hope. Surely today, surely now, surely here. 

“Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Have a blessed Holy Week!

Photo by Brady Leavell on Unsplash

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Billy Cleary C.S.Sp.

Ordained in 1982, Fr Billy is a former co-ordinator of Spiritan Mission Ireland. He has ministered previously in The Gambia, Liberia and Zimbabwe, in the education area in Ireland and, until his recent return home, in Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA.