Gospel at the Procession Luke 19:28-40
Today is the beginning of Holy Week, the most solemn week of the liturgical year. Today, Palm Sunday, we, as the body of Christ, enter into a period of sacred reflection in preparation for a joyous celebration. Some of us are urgently looking forward to a fresh hot cup of coffee, or the sweet delight of chocolate, or simply the joy of no longer having to deny everyday pleasures. Others are trusting the practices and disciplines that were newly adopted 5 weeks ago will now become habits and routine. Regardless of the reason of how we got here, this week is both the end and a beginning, and ultimately an opportunity to renew our hope.
Hope is defined as, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust.” St. Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Romans encourages us to hope, because “hope does not disappoint”. An encouragement we pass on to others when we offer words of hope to one another.
Honestly, there are times when words of hope can feel empty, but in reality hope is be as filling as an Easter Day meal. Hope is intangible. It is hard to explain, but it is definitely a difference maker. One can be hopeful, and one can be hopeless, and there are time when all one has is hope. Hope cannot be traded, or sold, or even purchased, nor can it be stored, or preserved like grandmas canned peaches for use on a desolate day. Hope cannot be possessed, however it can be shared. It can be given away, freely without expectation of repayment or return.
Today’s Gospel reading at the Procession, St. Luke’s account of Jesus’ triumphant entry in the city of Jerusalem, is about hope. From the tethered colt, to the questioning owner, to the ground covered in cloaks of the multitude of disciples praising God, all bear witness to hope. Hope is an expectation, a desire for an outcome, an ending of a story, a result of an action, the fruit of a seed and all of Jesus’ disciples gathered that day and sang praises and shouted for joy, all in the name of hope.
When Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees as to the behavior of his disciples, he responded by stating, “I tell you if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!” A statement confirming that he is indeed the King, the Messiah foretold by the Old Testament prophets, for if his disciples ceased in celebrating his arrival, then all of creation would take their place. Jesus’ triumphal entry was accompanied by the very chorus of hope. A chorus of voices crying out, celebrating the expectation of and a desire for salvation; the salvation promised by God for his people, for all of God’s people.
However, hope does not come without trial. Hope does not come without effort. St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans, “that affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character, hope.”
Are we personally without trial? Are we personally lacking in effort? Are we not experiencing affliction? Each of us, in his or her own way, in his or her own voice, can attest to the trial, the affliction, and the struggle that feelsl like the exact opposite of hope.
Can we not say the same about our parish? Is our parish without trial? Is our parish lacking in effort? Is this parish, this body of believers, not without affliction?
In both cases, in our personal lives and in our parish, there is no absence of obstacles, hardships, and discouragement. This Lenten season has been a unique struggle both personally and communally. Our personal desert experiences have been complicated by the struggles within the parish. As our hearts go out to all those who work diligently for the body of Christ, and most especially Fr. Raul in his recovery, and Fr. Carlos in the heavier burden he must bear, we cannot help but recognize the struggle and the difficulty which we, as a body of believers, are experiencing.
Yet, we hope. We do not abandon our faith in God and our love for one another. We refuse to let struggles divide us. In spite of all that has occurred, and all that has yet to occur, we do not lose our hope.
Today, this first day of Holy Week, in preparation for the recollection of our Saviors Passion, culminating in our Saviors Resurrection, let us too shout out in joy for the hope symbolized in the triumphant entry of Jesus. May we fix our eyes upon Jesus in joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of all that he promised as evidenced by his life, passion, death, and resurrection. Let us this day join our voices with that of all creation and proclaim our hope… our hope in our King and our Savior.