Palm Sunday Year C 2016 Armidale
Today we have come to this Cathedral as if to Jerusalem. We have followed Jesus waving palm branches acclaiming him our king and we have stood by him in his passion and crucifixion. As we have done this in a symbolic way we are expressing our inner desire to live the reality, that is, to have Jesus as my king and to stay by his side no matter what.
Luke 9:51: “When the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem”. The city of his suffering and glory, passion and resurrection. He knew the two went together. He knew his whole life and mission was leading up to this week. He was determined to get there.
His Apostles and followers were keen to go with him. In John 11:6 Thomas even says “let us also go to Jerusalem and die with him.” Love, fervour, and enthusiasm can inspire great things in us can’t it? How many lovers have said “I’d die for you”?
So, over weeks and possibly months they made their way to Jerusalem with many adventures along the way, and today they finally arrive. Luke tells us that “Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” As they approach the city and can see it in the distance Jesus is getting excited and he can’t wait to get there, even knowing all that is going to happen!
The long journey has not dampened the Apostles’ enthusiasm either. A few days later during the Last Supper Peter will say to Jesus, “Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).
Jesus had often spoken to his disciples about his upcoming death and resurrection which he knew lay ahead. Even though he knew it entailed hardship and suffering for him he was eager for it. He knew that the time for the fulfilment of his mission had come; that the time for him to save the world had arrived. And it is clear that the disciples shared his enthusiasm. Maybe they didn’t understand exactly what the days ahead were going to involve but they seemed to sense that something heroic might be required of them.
Our own love for Jesus has brought us here today and we stayed with him as we read his passion. Maybe, like me, you have sometimes told Jesus in the privacy of your own prayers that you love him so much you could even die for him! Yes, I have said this to Jesus in the morning, and then later on in the afternoon failed to help someone in need because it was inconvenient for me. I have spoken to Jesus as Thomas and Peter did on numerous occasions, and on numerous occasions I have also failed to stand up to those who attack our God and our faith.
I don’t wish to judge any of you here, but I reckon that most or all of you are probably not much different to me, or Thomas, or Peter, or the other disciples who ran away from Jesus when the going got tough, when their love and fervour met the prospect of real difficulty or suffering.
It’s interesting isn’t it that the same people who acclaim Jesus their “King” today, in just a few days’ time will cry “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”.
Like the Apostles we love Jesus and believe in him, we have decided to follow him, we know that this will not always be easy and sometimes it will be very difficult. And like the Apostles we don’t always do this perfectly: we may fall asleep instead of keeping watch; we might strike out with a sword or an angry word instead of a healing hand; we may follow Jesus at a distance and sometimes even pretend we don’t know him, and we may even run away from him at times.
All the while Jesus still loves us, still calls us back to him, still extends his mercy to us, still offers us his grace, just as he did to the Apostles. And Jesus still wants to make great disciples of us just as he did the Apostles who in the end did come back to Jesus and find again their love and fervour for him that was prepared even to die for him.
May we ALWAYS come back to Jesus.