Procession Gospel: The Royal Welcome
When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.”
This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet:
Tell Zion’s daughter, “Look, your king’s on his way, poised and ready, mounted on a donkey, on a colt foal of a pack animal.”
The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”
As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?”
The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Have you tried imaginative prayer - where you read a passage from the bible and try to put yourself into the scene?
Being in the crowd welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday must have been a pretty amazing experience. It can be hard for us to think of the joy everyone must have felt because we know how fast things changed, with the people who sang 'Hosanna' to Jesus yelling 'Crucify him' less than a week later. Imagining yourself there can help you feel the expectation, and to think deeply about what happened next. As we enter Holy Week it can also help us to focus on the reality of Jesus’s passion – that this happened to someone who was wholly God AND wholly human.
So let’s get into that crowd!
Who would you be in this scene? Maybe you’re someone Jesus has already worked miracles for. Or perhaps you’ve been hoping to meet Jesus and ask for his help; or maybe you’ve just heard some things about him and you don’t know what to think or believe. Or are you one of his disciples?
Depending on who you are, you’ll have different feelings – joy and relief that the Son of God is really here; expectations about what he can do to stop you being pushed around by the Romans; maybe anxiety, worrying about keeping Jesus safe, or whether you’ll get lost or crushed in the crowd, or if you’ll get close enough to him to ask for his help.
Can you feel the closeness of the crowd, the warmth of the sun? Can you smell the street-food? The animals? The crowd?!
What can you hear? Can you hear the palm branches snapping and rustling? Are people shouting Hosanna? Are they singing? Are people trying to get their own words heard? Are they laughing for joy? Are you shouting or singing, or calling to your friends? Have people brought musical instruments out? Can you hear Jesus? What is he saying? Does he speak to you?
What can you see? How big is this crowd? What sorts of people are here? What can you tell from the looks on their faces? How well can you see Jesus? Do you think he has seen you? What is that like?
If you had a few moments with Jesus right now, what would you want to say to him?
Salesian Communications Worker
As we come to the season of your passion
help us understand what you did for us.
Remind us you are still with us,
in our triumphs and our disasters.
Give us your humility in our good times;
your strength and faith when times are hard.