Liturgy of the Palms; Luke 19:28-40; Palm 118:1-2, 19-29
Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23:56 (or Luke 23:1-49)
“. . . Begot of nothing but vain fantasy, which is as thin of substance as the air and more inconstant than the wind.” – William Shakespeare
(Today’s comment is based on the Liturgy of the Palms. We can all save the Passion for Good Friday.)
The crowds cheer crying out “Blessed is the king.” (See Greek below) Nothing can suppress them. They feel liberated casting on the road their cloaks, their version of a ticker tape parade. Then silence. There is silence till the crowds shout to Pilate “Let him be crucified.” (Luke 23:21) Although historically there may have been two different groups of people; however, Luke is connecting these two shouting mobs. It is a literary coupling if not historical. What happened? What vain fantasy did they have during the parade that vanished and caused them to be inconstant? Jesus remains constant. Even by riding on a donkey he mocks the victor’s war horse thereby consistently proclaiming peace even as he rides to have violence done to him. But the crowds have no substance. We may sit in church and hear this story read to us and feel sorry for those people who did not understand. Do we understand? We can process around the church waving our palm branches. But if we do not process into the world to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty and visit the sick and prisoners we are fickle people who the next day are crying out “Crucify him.” However, the deacon at the end of our service calls us to constancy by proclaiming “Let us go into the world rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.”
The Greek word translated “blessed” also means “happy.” The people in this parade are sharing in happiness.
Fickle beasts we scat.
Our inconstant cheer thin air.
But always called forth.