Very early in John’s gospel, just after the wedding at Cana and the first cleansing of the temple, we read that “many believed in [Christ] when they saw the signs that he was doing.”
These sobering words follow:
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and he did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it very well.
Palm Sunday is a good day to contemplate tenuous nature of all human praise.
As we follow Christ throughout the gospels, we see the tension between his growing popularity and the building animosity of his enemies.
“The whole world has gone after him,” they whine.
But by the time Christ enters Jerusalem on a humble donkey, hailed by palms and shouts of acclamation, He is days out from a public crucifixion. And He knows it.
This does not deter him from accepting the right praise of the people. He is the Blessed One who comes in the name of the Lord. If the crowd doesn’t get it right at this moment, the rocks will cry out.
Once (Luke 18:19), when a seeker addressed him as “good teacher,” Christ responded, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Christ in His divinity is also the perfect Man. He is about one thing: the glory of God. It doesn’t matter whether He’s surrounded by a crowd who gets it right, or alone on a Cross when the world world gets it wrong.
So St. Paul, “the last of the apostles,” advises his spiritual son St. Timothy (2 Tim. 4:2) in this way:
Proclaim the word. Be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
“Likes” don’t mean a thing in the end. A love that points to eternity, willing only the good of the other: that’s the thing to ask for.
Convince. Reprimand. Encourage. In season and out. For one purpose alone. His glory.
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Walk with Jesus through this week with the help of beautiful artwork and classical music in ten scenes in a Pray-as-You-Go audio update of the traditional Stations of the Cross here.
“Perhaps the most striking thing about the Passion is the intermingling of two currents of events, the one bearing upon the present and pushing it inexorably to the fatal climax, the other arranging the future and sowing the seeds of eternal life in the universe of souls.” What Jesus Saw from the Cross brings the historical and geographical facts impacting the events of Holy Week to bear with remarkable clarity. More important, it opens the heart to the tender humility of the Man of Sorrows.
Photo by hellojardo on Unsplash. Lorenzetti’s painting via Wikipedia.
For more on this series, see Confessions of a Cannonball: A Lenten Invitation to Hunger for Humility.