It is fitting that the Church ends the Sundays in Lent following Jesus into
as our Processional Gospel reminds us:
“And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, ’Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’”
Because the last time we followed this grand procession was at the beginning of Advent and we followed Jesus to His birth of the virgin, St. Mary. Today’s procession is Jesus also descending to a sinful womb: that of the
Temple that is
supposed to birth many believers is instead corrupting the Word of God, causing
the stillbirth of unbelief.
So we think on and merge together Advent and Lent, not because it doesn’t matter when or how we celebrate them, but because when we do, we get the big picture. We see that Christ coming as an embryo is the precursor to Palm Sunday for both have the same goal in mind: the destruction of sin, death, and the devil upon the cross.
St. Luke, the
Pharisees complain that Jesus is being silent. That He is not standing up and
telling everyone to stop proclaiming that Jesus is the King of the Jews.
According to them, Jesus needs to speak up and say that this is not the way to
Similarly, Jesus appears silent today. We no longer have Him walking around. We no longer have Him healing, feeding, and exorcising. We no longer have Jesus speaking at public events, supporting political candidates, or running for office.
So what do we do? One option is to fill in those blank spaces ourselves. Since Jesus has “left”, that probably means that now it is up to us to continue His work. Now, the ball is in our court to speak up for freedom, religious liberty, and human rights, because that is what Jesus did.
So, we add to Jesus’ words and bring them to our own conclusions. We think that by legislative force, we can convince
America to be Christian
and show God how great we are doing.
If we would just follow Jesus’ teachings and apply them to our lives, then the world would see that we really do care about humans, for that is all religion is anyway: human care. All that Jesus tried to do and teach was about loving your neighbor and caring for others, right?
So Jesus ends up sounding like this:
“You have heard some of my opponents say that we must kill and destroy every last member of
ISIS… But I
tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who hate you, so that you
can become God’s children!”
“You have heard some of my opponents downplay the seriousness of police violence against minorities in our country, but I tell you: It would be better for one to fling themselves into the sea than to harm a child.”
“You have heard some of my opponents say we must be tougher in the area of justice, but I tell you: Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy.”
“You have heard some of my opponents say we must be bold and draw hard lines in our churches, but I tell you: What sorrow awaits you who slam the door to the
These sound nice, wonderful, and very rousing. I’m sure they would get the social justice crowd to stand on their feet. The problem is: Jesus never said any of that. The problem is, though they sound nice and Christians should want to care for their neighbor; you do not become a child of God through your own works.
Repent. In filling up the apparent silence of Jesus, not only do you declare His work incomplete and inept, but you also then presume to speak for God where God has not spoken. In speaking for God, you require action and works, where Jesus does not.
There is a second option to follow in light of Jesus ascension and that is to listen to what has already been said. Notice how Jesus does not get up and explain anything to the crowds on Palm Sunday, just like how He doesn’t explain anything to Pilate or the Chief priests.
Jesus remains silent now, because the Word of God has already spoken. The people speak out, because the Word of God has already been spoken to them, for Jesus has already declared Himself to be the Servant of the Lord Who will suffer and die at the hands of His own people.
The Word spoke to Eve, promising that her seed would crush the devil’s head. The Word spoke to Abraham, promising a sacrifice of God. The Word spoke to Moses, promising liberation from sin. The Word spoke to David, promising an everlasting kingdom.
The Word speaks to you and the Lamb of God goes uncomplaining forth. Bearing the sins of the earth, Jesus is led to the slaughter without complaint. He bears the stripes, the wounds, the lies, and the irony and yet replies, “All this I gladly suffer”.
The Word of the Lord suffers, dies, and rises again in order to declare you a child of God and you can return to that Word again and again, hearing that same promise as many times as you need.
No human kindness, civil program, social justice, pacifism, or any action of your own has saved you. Christ has and the Word proclaims this. The true teaching of Jesus is Himself. It is not about you.
It is Jesus who has loved His enemies: sinners and has redeemed them by His blood. It was Jesus who was a child, rejected, and ostracized. It is Jesus Who has borne the strict Justice of the Father and yet shows mercy, because of His sacrifice.
It is Jesus Who draws hard lines, turning those away who wish to earn their salvation saying, “Depart from me; I never knew you.”
The Word of God declares the Christ to be here. The hard line He draws is the cross. Is Jesus enough, or is there something more needed? Has Christ accomplished it all for you, or is there a hole that needs to be filled?
The answer is “Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord”. The answer is Jesus, on the cross, at the right hand, in the water, in the Word, and in the bread and wine. In this second option to facing Jesus’ silence: Jesus has already spoken.
Jesus has already spoken on the issues and He has already set up His standard. He will not be Regent. He will not be President. He will not be Humanitarian. He will be Lord. He will be creator. He will be the only-begotten offered up. He will be the sacrifice, instead of us. Jesus will be both the giver of the Feast and the Feast itself.