Entering into the Holy is to go into the unknown. It can be a frightening thing. As we look to Holy Week, beginning on Sunday, I find myself struggling with this reflection. To observe Lent has been to sit with a lot of different emotions: joy, triumph, sorrow, longing, guilt, peace, and loss. Just to name a few!
Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem. He is greeted by crowds praising him and shouting “Hosanna”, which means save me. They laid palm branches across the road and received him as King. These same people would be shouting “crucify him” at the end of the week. And here’s the kicker, Jesus knows that. He enters the willing sacrifice, he enters to finish the story of Jesus as Christ on Earth.
I find myself thinking about the way Buddhist householder Susan Piver talks about love. She makes 2 points which seem relevant to Palm Sunday. The first is that often in love we do not see the person before us, rather we see a projection we’ve put on them. We see what we want to see. I wonder what the people of Jerusalem saw when they greeted Jesus. They expected a warrior to come and conquer Rome and free them. Jesus enters on a donkey with 12 disciples on foot behind him. He is not a mighty warrior, but something entirely different. Still, they cheered.
Piver’s second point about love is that real love is something we do without expectation. We lean in and love someone with no concern about whether they will love us back. It can also mean finding that place where we can love someone who is no longer in our lives. We love because we must not because of what we get in return. Jesus enters and greets the adoring crowds knowing in less than a week they will turn on him.
Growing up I was taught Jesus was love – he loved all the little children, no matter what. My childhood church experiences were filled with singing “Jesus loves me for the bible tells me so”. As a child I saw Jesus as a friend. As an adult immersed in the story and teachings this Lenten season, I am learning more about what it means to love, to go willingly, to stand up for justice, to fulfill what I know in my heart I was born to do.
As a child, Jesus was my friend. As an adult I see him as Teacher, Activist, and Hope-bringer.
How do you see him? How is Jesus or the Spirit revealed in your life today?