One week left until Easter! On Palm Sunday we listen to the very familiar readings that help us to “get in the mood” for Holy Week … reflecting on the paschal mystery, thinking about all that Christ did for us and the required response for our lives.
On Palm Sunday, and every Sunday, we gather to worship. We usually think of human beings as the ones who shout out praise to God. However, other creatures, each in its own way, often make profound religious statements. There are examples of this in two of today’s readings. The passage describing Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem recalls the standard royal entrance procession of the day when people would gather around and cheer the arriving royalty. However, Jesus does not enter the city on a mighty warhorse, as did so many conquering heroes. He sat on a colt (some translate the Greek word as "donkey"). This animal was meek and unassuming, thus proclaiming the character of its rider. The symbolism is striking, and words of explanation are unnecessary.
Even more striking is the symbolism of the Passover meal. It was already a ceremony that "remembered," or made ritually present, the much earlier event of Israel’s deliverance by God. The meal probably consisted of bread, herbs, lamb, fruit, a vegetable, and wine – whatever Earth brought forth that year. This meal of deliverance with all the symbolism the food might have carried became the setting for Jesus’ own mystical action.
Taking the bread and the wine, Jesus transformed it. The symbolism of binding oneself with others by sharing the same food becomes more than symbolism here. The bread and wine are transformed into Jesus himself. No longer merely symbols, they are now sacrament.
In Lent, we have been thinking about our planet and the climate. The past five homilies are all posted on the parish website and blog in case you want to revisit them. We end our series today noting that there is still much to do.
Climate change has dried up the fruit of the field and the fruit of the vine; it has left animals like the colt to starve in the woods. It cripples our bodies as it destroys our food; it defiles our spirits as it desecrates our religious symbols. There is no religious remembrance where earth is violated.
As stewards of God's creation and protectors of life, we are called to "care for our common home," as Pope Francis so eloquently asks of us in Laudato si'.
As we prepare for Holy Week … take some time to think about the themes presented … and the ways that we can be better lovers of the planet. From the very beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and all that dwell on it and God saw that it was good … let’s respect the good that God created, and to the best of our ability, give a better world to our children than that which we received.