Today is Palm Sunday, and we are now (finally) nearing the end of Lent. The holiest time of the year is upon us. As such, the liturgies held during this time take on even more meaning than normal.
In Catholicism, there are two Gospel readings read on Palm Sunday. Every year, these same readings are read, and every year, I find myself meditating on a new reflection from these readings.
The first, shorter Gospel passage read today recounts Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, with the people of Jerusalem waving palms to welcome Him to their city. The second, longer Gospel passage tells of His betrayal and death just five days later, while the crowds mocked Him and called for His brutal crucifixion.
Today I found myself holding a palm during the long Gospel reading recounting Jesus's Passion. And then I, with the rest of my fellow parishioners, cried out: "Crucify Him!" while holding that very same palm. This was indeed fitting: in less than a week's time, those same people who proclaimed Jesus the Son of David called for his death, and I found myself in their number, calling for His demise while holding the very instrument of his welcome.
Of course, this was during the liturgy, during a scripted passage. But how striking it is that the same people who called for Jesus' death were those who proclaimed Him as their savior less than a week earlier! The Church wishes us to reflect on our own role in the death of Christ, and how we who claim Him as our King turn on Him every day through our own sin and selfishness. In a very real sense, I do turn from Him when I sin, and call for His death - He whom I claim as king.
Humanity is indeed fickle, raising men up to absurd heights in their hour of triumph and then turning on them instantly when they fall from power. And this quality of fallen humanity manifested itself during the period of Jesus's Passion 2000 years earlier, and still is all too familiar to us today.