Palm Sunday – The Very Rev. Michael Higgins
When a powerful Roman General entered the city after being triumphant in battle he came in a procession of great splendour, riding in a four horse chariot. When an English medieval king entered a city he had taken in war he did so heading a great procession, riding in full armour on a great charger.
When the King of Kings and Lord of Lords entered the city of Jerusalem He did so riding on a lowly donkey, a beast of burden – a contrast indeed! This vivid picture of a calm and tranquil Jesus surrounded by the excited crowd with their palm branches and shouts will be at the centre of all our minds today.
It is a picture of humility. St Paul reminds us how Jesus ‘emptied Himself’ and became as a servant for our sake. In the same way we are all called on to reckon others better than ourselves, looking not only to our own interests but to the interests of others. Humility is something that defeats us daily – only as we worship and draw close to Christ is it remotely possible.
It is a picture of peace. Have you ever noticed how a seagull can hover in apparent peace and calm even when a violent wind is turning everything else around it upside down? This is the kind of peace Jesus captures as He rides into what He knows will be the most momentous week in human history. This peace amid the storm is another quality for which we all long – again something only Christ can give us.
It is a picture of weakness. Napoleon, once threatened with excommunication by the Church, replied “And how many Divisions does the Pope command?”. He had to learn the lesson that the weakness of Christ on His Cross has brought more change for good to the world than all Napoleon’s armies could ever hope to achieve. At the end of this week Jesus will give the biggest demonstration of love history has ever known, as God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Love,not force, is the greatest power on earth, something we need to remember.