The excitement of the people of faith on Palm Sunday can be felt by everyone. We are going to get palms! It was an ancient tradition to honor kings by spreading our garments on the ground like a royal carpet; see 2 Kings 9-13, and branches; see Psalm 118:27.
Palm Sunday begins from the village of Bethpage, meaning “house of unripe figs”. We will later hear in Matthew 21:18-22 the parable about the fig tree that does not produce fruit. Jewish tradition holds that the fig tree was the one Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat; yet did so anyway!
“Behold your King comes to you, meek and riding on an ass”, is a fulfillment of Zech 9:9. For the first time, Jesus is publicly making a claim that he is the Messiah without saying a word. “Meek” means that he is coming to establish peace, not to make war.We shout, “Hosanna”, which is a Greek transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning, “Save Us”, or “ Give Salvation”. The inhabitants of Jerusalem question Jesus’ worthiness to receive such a royal welcome: “Who is this?”, they ask. The Judeans are from the South, Jesus is a Galilean from Nazareth in the North. A sign of trouble to come.
Our joyful response to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is quickly changed in the Gospel reading as we discover that Jesus is betrayed by Judas, one of the twelve chosen disciples. As different readers help proclaim different parts of the Gospel, we the faithful, become like Peter, and deny Jesus three times. Then we become like the uncontrollable mob and call for the freedom of Barabbas and the death of Jesus. We truly are sinners.
And so it begins.