Reflections on the Palm Sunday Gospels

‘What do you really want?’  That is the question the crowds face on Palm Sunday, and the disciples face as Jesus goes to the cross.  In what do they place their deepest hopes and trust?

The ongoing financial crisis poses these questions to us all.  Our society is reaping the harvest of a financial system which has spun out of control – a system which placed its trust in things and disregarded people.  The Palm Sunday and Easter readings speak to us of a God who breaks through the narrowness and greed of human hearts, not to judge and condemn but to offer ‘the life that really is life’ (1 Timothy 6.19) .

The Palm Sunday Gospel readings are Luke 19.28-40 (Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem) and Luke 23.1-49 (Gospel of the Passion)

As Jesus enters Jerusalem, what is it that the crowd think they see?  They think they see a king – perhaps a military leader who will end the rule of the Romans.  But Jesus doesn’t meet their expectations. What they are after is not what he provides.  His arrival on a donkey overturns their expectations, but the reality takes some time to sink in.

Of course, we read this with the benefit of hindsight – but the Gospel poses this question to  each of us every bit as much as it does to them.  ‘What are you after?’  What do we seek from Jesus?  And are we willing to allow him to challenge, and to disappoint our expectations?  As the disciples learn, it is in not giving us what we are after that Jesus gives us what we truly need.

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