In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Today, in the day of Palms we stand in awe and amazement before what is
happening in a way in which the Jews of Jerusalem could not meet Christ because
they met Him imagining that He was the glorious king who would now take over all
power, conquer and reject the heathen, the Romans who were occupying their
country, that He would re-establish a kingdom, an earthly kingdom of Israel. We
know that He had not come for that, He had come to establish a Kingdom that will
have no end, a Kingdom of eternity, and the Kingdom that was not open only to
one nation but was open to all nations, and the Kingdom that was to be founded
on the life and on the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God become the Son of
And Holy Week is from one end to another a time of tragic confusion. The Jews
meet Christ at the gates of Jerusalem because they expect of Him a triumphant
military leader, and He comes to serve, to wash the feet of His disciples, to
give His life for the people but not to conquer by force, by power. And the same
people who meet Him shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” in a few days will
shout, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” because He has betrayed their expectations.
They expected an earthly victory and what they see is a defeated king. They hate
Him for the disappointment of all their hopes.
And this is not so alien to us in our days. How many are those people who have
turn away in hatred from Christ because He has disappointed one hope or another.
I remember a woman who had been a believer for all her life and whose grandson
died, a little boy, and she said to me, “I don’t believe in God anymore. How
could He take my grandson?” And I said to her, “But you believed in God
while thousands and thousands and millions of people died.” And she looked at me
and said, “Yes, but what did that do to me? I didn’t care, they were not
my children.” This is something that happens to us in a small degree so often
that we waver in our faith and in our faithfulness to God when something which
we expect Him to do for us is not done, when He is not an obedient servant, when
we proclaim our will, He does not say, “Amen,” and does not do it. So it is not
so alien that we are from those who met Christ at the gates of Jerusalem and
then turned away from Him.
But we are entering now in Holy Week. How can we face the events? I think we
must enter into Holy Week not as observers, not reading the passages of the
Gospel which are relevant, we must enter into Holy Week as though we were
participants of the events, indeed read of them but then mix in the crowd that
surrounds Christ and ask ourselves, Who am I in this crowd? Am I one of those
who said, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’? And am I now on the fringe of saying,
‘Crucify him’? Am I one of the disciples who were faithful until the moments of
ultimate danger came upon them? You remember that in the Garden of Gethsemane
three disciples had been singled out for Christ to support Him at the hour of
His supreme agony, and they did not, they were tired, they were desponded and
they fell asleep. Three times He came to them for support, three times they were
away from Him.
We do not meet Christ in the same circumstances but we meet so many people who
are in agony, not only dying physically, and that also happens to our friends,
our relatives, people around us, but are in agony of terror one way or another.
Are we there awake, alive, attentive to them, ready to help them out, and if we
can’t help, to be with them, to stand by them or do we fall asleep, that is,
contract out, turn away, leave them in their agony, their fear, their misery.
And again I am not speaking of Judas because no-one of us is aware of betraying
Christ in such a way, but don’t we betray Christ when we turn away from all His
commandments? When He says, “I give you an example for you to follow,” and we
shake our heads and say, “No, I will simply follow the devices of my own heart.”
But think of Peter, apparently the strongest, the one who spoke time and again
in the name of others, when it came to risking his life, not his life, to be
rejected simply, because no-one was about to kill him, he denied Christ three
What do we do when we are challenged in the same way, when we are in danger of
being mocked and ridiculed and put aside by our friends or our acquaintances who
shrug their shoulders and say, “A Christian? And you believe in that? And you
believe that Christ was God, and you believe in His Gospel, and you are on His
side?” How often? O, we don’t say, “No, we are not,” but do we say, “Yes, it is
my glory, and if you want to crucify Him, if you want to reject Him, reject me
too because I choose to stand by Him, I am His disciple, even if I am to be
rejected, even if you don’t let me into your house anymore.”
And think of the crowd on Calvary. There were people who had been instrumental
in His condemnation, they mocked Him, they had won their victory, so they
thought at least. And then there were the soldiers, the soldiers who crucified
Him, they had crucified innumerable other people, they were doing their job. It
didn’t matter to them whom they crucified. And yet Christ prayed for them,
“Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they are doing.” We are not being
crucified physically, but do we say, “Forgive, Father, those who offend us, who
humiliate us, who reject us, those who kill our joy and darken our life in us.”
Do we do that? No, we don’t. So we must recognise ourselves in them also.
And then there was a crowd of people who had poured out to the city to see a man
die, the fierce curiosity that pushes so many of us to be curious when
suffering, agony comes upon people. You will say, it doesn’t happen? Ask
yourself how you look at television and how eagerly, hungrily you look at the
horrors that befall Somalia, the Sudan, Bosnia and every other country. Is it
with a broken heart? Is it that you can not endure the horror and turn in prayer
to God and then give, give, give generously all you can give for hunger and
misery to be alleviated? Is it? No, we are the same people who came out on
Calvary to see a man die. Curiosity, interest? Yes, alas.
And then there were those who had come with the hope that He will die because if
He died on the cross, then they were free from this terrifying, horrible message
He had brought that we must love one another to the point of being ready to die
for each other. That message of the crucified, sacrificial love could be
rejected once and for all if He who preached it, died, and it was proved that He
was a false prophet, a liar.
And then there were those who had come in the hope that He will come down from
the cross, and then they could be believers without any risk, they would have
joint the victorious party. Aren’t we like that so often?
And then there is a point to which we hardly should dare turn our eyes – the
Mother of the Incarnate Son of God, the Mother of Jesus silent, offering His
death for the salvation of mankind, silent and dying with Him hour after hour;
and the disciple who knew in a youthful way how to love his master, standing by
in horror, seeing his Master die and the Mother in agony. Are we like this when
we read the Gospel, are we like this when we see the agony of men around us?
Let us therefore enter in this Holy Week in order not to be observers of what
happened then, let us enter into it mixed with the crowd and at every step ask
ourselves, who am I in this crowd? Am I the Mother? Am I the disciple? Am I one
of the crucifiers? And so forth. And then we will be able to meet the day of the
Resurrection together with those to whom it was life and resurrection indeed,
when despair had gone, new hope had come, God had conquered. Amen.