Gospel during Procession: Luke 19:28-40
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Do you remember your high school or college homecoming? Remember the parade through campus with the homecoming king and queen wearing sashes and riding on the back of a convertible while people are cheering for them? When I listen to the Procession Gospel on Palm Sunday, this image is what comes to mind when I think of Jesus riding on the back of the donkey as he is arriving into Jerusalem. I envision this arrival as more than people laying cloaks down and exclaiming “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” It is a parade of fanfare people acknowledging Jesus as king. But there is a difference between these two celebrations. The homecoming king and queen are elected then appointed to represent the homecoming court, while Jesus’ parade occurs before his passion and resurrection. There is also another major significant difference; when homecoming weekend concludes, the man and woman no longer hold the titles of king and queen, YET Jesus’ kingship lives on forever after his death on the cross.
This theme of kingship after the passion and resurrection carries through into the other readings for today. In the Letter to the Philippians, Paul shares that because Jesus was obedient to the point of death by the cross, “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those 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.” In the Gospel after the Second Reading, we read that during Jesus’ passion, the scribes and Pharisees take Jesus before Pilate to be condemned, and the reason was because of the issue regarding whether Jesus was the King of the Jews. Pilate even questions Jesus about this: then we later read that Jesus was mocked by having a crown of thorns placed on his head, and the inscription on the cross stated, “Jesus, King of the Jews.” So in one regard, he was acknowledged as king and praised by the people, yet in another regard condemned to death over the issue by others who felt threatened by him. But we know the victory of eternal kingship is his because of his resurrection.
What does this mean for us today at this current time 2000 years later? Just as Paul stated, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those 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.” it is important to spread that message to others in our daily lives and the various ministries in which we participate. During Jesus’ passion, Judas betrays him and Peter denies knowing him three times, so the thought for us to examine is whether we are really going to spread the Gospel and tell the world that Jesus is king, or whether we will betray or deny knowing Jesus through our negative actions. What are you going to do???