Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When Heaven and Earth echo the same Refrain


When Heaven and Earth echo the same Refrain
Reflection for the Celebration of the Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday

Luke 22:14--26:53

On Sunday, we will celebrate the Great entry of Jesus' to the city of Jerusalem or popularly called as Palm Sunday. Filipinos bring to church and wave their "Palaspas" or coconut fronds, the native version of palm branches that the crowd is said to have waved to acclaim Jesus.

On the Closer reading of the Luke's accout, however we see that the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; there is no mention of palms. Mark mentions leafy branches that people had cut from the fields (Mk. 11:18). That is probably what actually happened. What liturgy and popular imagination have adopted is John's version: a great crowd took palm branches and went out to meet Jesus (Jn. 12:13). Jesus is welcomed the way as pagan kings and emperors were welcomed by the populace waiting for favor. The theme of his kingship is clearly underlined. Later, in Christian liturgy and art, the palm will become a symbol of martyrdom. A great multitude of martyrs stands before the lamb Jesus in Glory holding palm branches in their hands crying out: "Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb" (Rev. 8:9-10) John's account appears like a festive liturgy. But the heavenly liturgy is somehow echoed on the earth messengers. The Crowd is delirious with Joy because they see him as the Messiah who comes to save them from their oppressors, especially the Romans. The shout "Hosannah!" "Save us Now!" they cry out with political deliverance. Luke, a very perspective writer does not however, present Jesus' multitude of disciples crying this way. Instead they proclaim "Blessed is the king who comes in the Name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest." Whatever might have been the disciples' intention, the evangelists has their shouting a refrain to the song of the heavenly host on Christmas midnight "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace on whom is favored rest" (Lk. 2:14). Before the Passion, earthly voices echo the angelic ones. For Luke, the whole life of Jesus is contained by the angelic and human refrain: "Glory to God, peace to men... " Peace was proclaimed even when the Roman order for the census forced by the Messiah to be born in the stable. Peace is again proclaimed even while the enemies of Jesus (the Jewish and roman authorities) plan to get rid of him. Peace is the gift of God, achieved through the birth, ministry, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Peace is the overcoming of all division, of evil of death; won by Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who suffered and died for the glory of God and the Salvation of men and Women.

Have a Blessed and Meaningful Observance of Holy Week


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