Fr. John Allison
Palm/Passion Sunday C
April 10, 2022
Christ Church, Hudson
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
These words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians take on chilling significance when read in the context of the events we recount today. Jesus has entered Jerusalem triumphantly, as a king, and the hopes of the people are high as they await a return of the messianic kingdom. “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosannna in the highest heaven!”
But the glory is fleeting, or so it seems. We know the story. We’ve not only heard it in great dramatic fashion just now but we hear it every week in the words of our Eucharist. The story of Christ’s death and the coming Resurrection to which it leads is at the heart of our lives as disciples. And yet, this is a story that never loses its power to pierce our hearts. It’s a story that never fails to leave us bereft over Christ’s suffering and at the same time grateful and at the same time guilty, for it is our own voices that shout “crucify him!” after only just welcoming him as a king.
As I have contemplated these events over this last week, I have been drawn back to our first Sunday of the season of Lent. I have been thinking of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, specifically his temptation to glory. In the Gospel of Luke, the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offers them to him. “To you I will give their glory and all this authority. If only you worship me, it will be yours.” I can’t help but imagine that this temptation to glory wasn’t still very present to Jesus as he rides into Jerusalem in royal procession. I can’t help but imagine that Satan wasn’t still close at hand, whispering his words of temptation to hold tightly to the praise and adoration of the people as they line the path with the palm leaves. Certainly, this is a temptation to us all. But this is not the way. This is not the path that leads to true salvation. This is not the path that offers new life.
As we begin our journey together through Holy Week we must enter fully with Christ into the suffering and desolation of the Cross. The temptation is to rush forward to Easter, to Resurrection and glory. And, indeed, the Kingdom is at hand, as Jesus has taught us, but in his Passion, in his suffering, in the events that we are to remember over this coming week we are called to participate in the most Holy movement of emptying ourselves, of opening ourselves to be obedient to God’s will for us in the knowledge and trust of his promise. This is our faith and over this week, as we journey toward Easter, it will be concentrated very intensely like no other time of the Church year.
Over these past five weeks we have been preparing. We have all had our time in the wilderness of Lent. We have all had our times of temptation and now, with Jesus, we have entered Jerusalem and have before us the great three days. We will, with Jesus, face betrayal. We will, with Jesus, suffer. We will face the desolation of the tomb. But that is not our end.
“Let the same mind be in you, that was in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
We have been preparing for this great obedience. We have been emptying ourselves through this season of fasting and penitence and now is the call: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.
I said at the beginning of the season that our word, Lent, comes from a root that means Springtime. Lent has been a season of preparation for the flowering of Easter. We have been enlarged. We have opened more space in our hearts with the emptying practices and disciplines that we have taken on. And now, here in this final week, especially in the coming three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil we will fully inhabit that space in our hearts and wait in the sure knowledge that God will enter, that with Christ we will be raised to new life. That is the joy that awaits. That is the end toward which our covenant points.
We are called to glory. We will be raised to new life in Christ. In the meantime, let us not abandon him to the grave. This most Holy Week, walk with Jesus. Pray with him. Listen with Jesus for the will of Father, resting in the knowledge that you WILL rise with him. Amen.