‘Blessings on him who comes!’

We live in a tension between the present and the future. We cannot settle for either. We cannot think that what we now live is the only reality.

Source: ‘Blessings on him who comes!’ – The Zimbabwean

There is something more beyond it. On the other hand, we cannot spend our time dreaming of a future over which we have no control. We have to live in the present.

Holy Week, for those who attend to it, is a time when we bring these two together. We are weighed down, for instance, by the ever-deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe. But we cannot sit on our hands and say this is the only reality. There is a future which we strain forward to, even if there are few signs of its approach. And on the world scene, we are ‘sorrowful to the point of death’ by the merciless attack on the ordinary people of Ukraine. But, even there, we can sense the forging of a new people tested by fire. This is not consoling to women trying to care for their children in the basements of burnt-out cities, but, even so, somewhere in their consciousness they know that a brighter future is in store for those who survive the horrors. The sacrifices of those now giving their lives are the seeds that die. They will bear fruit and be remembered forever.

This is what we attend to in Holy Week. The Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore, puts it this way;

Have you not heard his silent steps? He comes, comes, ever comes.                      Every moment and every age, every day and every night he comes,           comes, ever comes. Many a song have I sung in many a mood of mind,           but all their notes have always proclaimed, ‘He comes, comes, ever   comes.’

Palm Sunday marks the opening of the week. Echoing the prophet Zechariah (9:9), Jesus comes riding a donkey and the people gather to welcome him, laying their chitenges on the earth for him to pass over. This event fizzles out. It was never meant to be the beginning of a revolution and a takeover of the government by Jesus. It was simply a sign. And attentive Jews would see the connection with Zechariah. It had huge meaning for the early church later. Jesus would ‘gather’ the new Israel into a new people of God.

But it would come through sacrifice, terrible sacrifice.  We try this week to accompany Jesus on his terrible journey. What started with a brief flash of triumph on Palm Sunday will end in ignominy on Good Friday. Can we be there and taste the sorrow – and the hope?

10 April 2022        Palm Sunday         Luke 19:28-40

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