Rev. Deacon Allen J. Batchelder
March 24, 2013 – Lent VI – Palm Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Luke 19:28-40
From the book of the Prophet Isaiah:
For the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore
I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he
who vindicates me is near.
From St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is
above every name, that at the name o f Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven
and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
And from the Gospel of St. Luke:
As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole
multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for
all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes
in the name of the Lord!”
Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in
thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.
I don’t know how many of you were able to see the Mass to inaugurate the new papacy
on Tuesday morning in St. Peter’s Square. He appears to be a very humble man.
After his election in the Sistine Chapel, the new pope chose not to sit on the papal throne
when he received the oath of obedience and homage from the cardinals. Instead, he stood
and received the cardinals one by one, according to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi,
director of the Vatican Press Office.
After his appearance to the 100,000 well wishers in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis
declined to use a special car prepared for him, but chose to take the minibus back to Casa
Santa Marta, the residence the Cardinals use during the conclave.
The next morning, Pope Francis made a visit to the St. Mary Major basilica, the oldest
church dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus. Exiting the basilica, he spent some time
visiting with children in a nearby schoolyard. He traveled to the basilica in a common
Vatican service car, declining again to use the papal limousine. Some of you might
remember the limousine being called the “Pope mobile.” He was also accompanied by a
small security detail and not a police escort.
It is commendable that Pope Francis chooses to be humble, but I pray that his act of
humility does not tempt fate; that he does not “set things in motion.” The reason for the
“Pope mobile,” with its bullet-proof glass was to prevent an assassination. Christians and
Jews are under attack from non-believers; disciples of the evil one. There will continue to
be evil in this world until the return of Jesus Christ.
Five days before the Passover, Jesus came from Bethany to Jerusalem. People had
gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover and were looking for Jesus: both because of His
great works and teaching and because they had heard of the miracle of the resurrection
of Lazarus. When they heard that Jesus was entering the city, they went out to meet
Him with palm branches, laying their garments on the ground before Him, and shouting,
“Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”
When Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he didn’t choose a horse or a
chariot; he didn’t even choose a donkey; he chose a colt. He didn’t choose any of the
various means of transportation usually associated with a King; instead He chose a lowly
colt; or was it?
As the two disciples were untying the donkey and colt, the owners questioned the
two disciples: “Why are you untying the colt? So, they simply responded as Jesus
had instructed, “the Lord has need of them.” The plan was executed quietly because
the Jewish leaders had let it be known that anyone confessing Christ would be
excommunicated (John 9:22). The fact that the rulers planned to kill Jesus made it even
more important that the owners be protected.
We think of the donkey as a lowly animal, but to the Jew it was a beast fit for a king (1
Kings 1:33, 44). Jesus rode the colt (Luke 19:35) while the mother of the colt walked
along with it. The fact that the colt had never been ridden and yet submitted to Jesus
indicates our Lord’s sovereignty over His creation. The laying of garments on the animals
and on the road and the waving and spreading of branches were all part of a traditional
Jewish reception for royalty.
The colt, one of the animals that were considered unclean according to the Law, is
symbolic of the inclusion of all peoples of all nations in the new covenant that will come
through the death and resurrection of Christ (Isa. 62:10-11). It is also a sign that our Lord
has revealed a heavenly and spiritual kingdom that offers true and enduring peace.
When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, this was the only time Jesus
permitted a public demonstration on His behalf, and He did so for at least two reasons.
First, He was fulfilling prophecy and presenting Himself as Israel’s king (Zech. 9:9).
How much of this the crowd really understood we cannot tell, even though they
responded by quoting their praises from a messianic psalm (Ps. 118:25-26). No doubt
many of the Passover pilgrims thought that Jesus would lead them in conquering and
getting rid of the Roman invaders and establishing a glorious kingdom.
The second reason for this demonstration was to force the Jewish religious leaders to act;
to set in motion the events of Jesus final hours on earth. The leaders had hoped to arrest
Him after the Passover (Matt. 26:3-5), but God had ordained that His Son be slain on
Passover as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Every
previous attempt to arrest Jesus had failed because “His hour had not yet come” (John
7:30; 8:20). When they saw this great public celebration, the leaders knew they had to
act, and the willing cooperation of Judas solved their problem for them (Matt. 26:14-16).
At the outset of His public ministry Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God and announced
that the powers of the age to come were already active in the present age (Luke 7:18-
22). His words and mighty works were performed “to produce repentance as the response
to his call, a call to an inward change of mind and heart which would result in concrete
changes in one’s life, a call to follow Him and accept His messianic destiny. The
triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is a messianic event, through which his divine
authority was declared.
Palm Sunday summons us to behold our king: the Word of God made flesh. We are
called to behold Him not simply as the one who came to us once riding on a colt, but as
the One who is always present in us.
Palm Sunday summons us to accept both the rule and the kingdom of God as the goal
and content of our Christian life. We draw our identity from Christ and His kingdom. The
kingdom is Christ – His indescribable power, boundless mercy and incomprehensible
abundance given freely to man. The kingdom does not lie at some point or place in
the distant future. The scripture tells us, the kingdom of God is not only at hand (Matt.
3:2), it is within us (Luke 17:21). The kingdom is a present reality as well as a future
realization (Matt. 6:10).
The kingdom of God is the life of the Holy Trinity in the world. It is the kingdom of
holiness, goodness, truth, beauty, love, peace and joy. These qualities are not works of
the human spirit. They proceed from the life of God and reveal God. Christ Himself is the
kingdom. He is the God-Man, Who brought God down to earth (John 1:1, 14).
Palm Sunday summons us to behold our king – the Suffering Servant. We cannot
understand Jesus’ kingship apart from the Passion. Filled with infinite love for the
Father and the Holy Spirit, and for creation, in His inexpressible humility Jesus accepted
the infinite sacrifice of the Cross. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; He was
wounded for our transgressions and made Himself an offering for sin (Isa. 53).
His glorification, which was accomplished by the resurrection and the ascension, was
achieved through the Cross.
As a servant of God, Jesus submitted His mind to the Lord God so that He could learn
His work and His will (Isa. 50:4). Everything Jesus said and did was taught to Him by
His Father (John 5:19, 30). He prayed to the Father for guidance and meditated on the
Word. What God taught the Servant, the Servant shared with those who needed help and
The Servant’s will was also yielded to the Lord God. The people to whom the Prophet
Isaiah ministered to were neither “willing” nor “obedient” (Isa. 1:19), but the Servant
did gladly the will of the Lord God. This was not easy, for it meant yielding His body
to wicked men who mocked Him, whipped Him, spat on Him, and then nailed Him to a
cross (Matt. 26:67; 27:26, 30).
When Christ was born at Bethlehem, He entered into a permanent union with humanity
from which there could be no escape. He willingly humbled Himself that He might lift us
up! Jesus did not pretend to be a servant; He was not an actor playing a role. He actually
was a servant! This was the true expression of His innermost nature. He was the God-
Man, Deity and humanity united in one, and He came as a servant.
The person with the submissive mind does not avoid sacrifice. He lives for the glory of
God and the good of others; and if paying a price will honor Christ and help others, he is
willing to do it. This was St. Paul’s attitude and Timothy’s as well. Sacrifice and service
go together if service is to be true Christian ministry.
This coming Thursday, we will be administering the Office of Tenebrae. In the Upper
Room, when His disciples apparently refused to minister, Jesus arose, laid aside His outer
garments, put on the long linen towel, and washed their feet! (John 13). He took the place
of a menial slave.
The next day He accepted His fate. He took our place and suffered on a cross for the
remission of our sins; for our salvation. Then He rose again as King Eternal! May we
join in the chorus and never falter: Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the
Let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast
sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon
the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully
grant that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of
his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee
and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.