Sunday Next before Easter (Palm Sunday)
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." (Zechariah 9:9)
In the biblical narrative, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem, it was a provocative act of prophetic pantomiming, openly assuming the role of the Messiah and declaring himself claimant of the throne of Israel. The Gospel according to Matthew (21:1-11) tells us:
"And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee."
The crowds were chanting explicit messianic slogans. Some Pharisees in the crowd, alarmed at the revolutionary implications of the scene, said to Jesus, “Master, rebuke thy disciples.” Jesus answered and said unto them, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19-39-40)
On Palm Sunday we are reminded that, just as Jesus entered the East Gate of Jerusalem, offering himself resolutely, we must offer ourselves, with perfect consciousness and free will, to enter triumphant and victorious through the gates of the Celestial Jerusalem.
The famous injunction of our Lord was to love one’s neighbor as oneself. This was the simple philosophy of Master Philippe of Lyon, a gentle healer who we honor on this day. Master Philippe was one of several significant influences who shaped the life of our Bishop Papus, the founder of the Martinist Order. Philippe asked his followers to remember him on Palm Sunday, and on this day they would visit his grave. Today, in honor Master Philippe, let us be reminded of the essential message of Our Lord the Christ. After entering Jerusalem:
“…Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." (Matthew 21: 12-13)
Palm Sunday narratives often highlight this outrageous act of Jesus throwing the money changers out of the temple, but what did Jesus do there after he threw them out? The next verse (Matthew 21:14) tells us, "And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.”
This was the basic commission of Jesus to his disciples, and may it be a lesson to ourselves: “…into whatsoever city ye enter…heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” (Luke 10: 8-9)