Passion Sunday is the start of Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent. This is a time when in some churches the tradition is to veil all crucifixes, pictures and images, also to leave out the Gloria Patri at the end of the Psalms, as if to remind ourselves of what it would be like for us if Jesus had never come into the world.
The word passion means suffering. So, this is the season when we particularly recall the sufferings of Jesus as he approached his death. In Passiontide, we think about what our Lord must have gone through, knowing exactly, it would seem, what was going to happen to him.
I would like to focus this Passiontide upon the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem and contrast the gentleness and humility of his entry into the city with the anger he displayed in the Temple. In St John's Gospel, we read: ‘The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ (John 2.13-16)
It is in this contrast that we can understand our thirst for righteousness and social justice. The Old Testament prophecy of Zeccariah depicts th triumphant and victorious procession of Zion’s King as he enters his kingdom. The ancient idea of leadership associated with military glory had been transformed into that which is universal and founded upon peace and justice. He is the Saviour of the poor and for this reason he comes into town not upon a war horse but upon a donkey, an animal that symbolizes peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you. Amen.
Your friend and Parish Priest