At Mass today you would have heard a lot more reading than normal with the Gospel at the start and the reading of the Passion story where the Gospel would normally have been. Today’s Gospel and the Passion story provide quite a contrast from each other.
The Gospel reading was about Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem, which is a joyous occasion. Jesus rode in on a donkey, a sign of peaceful intention as well as showing that he was humble. The people of Jerusalem cheered and waved palms around to celebrate that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They couldn’t contain their excitement that Jesus was entering their city. The scene to which Jesus enters Jerusalem is completely different from what he witnesses mere days later when he is arrested on Maundy Thursday in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper.
As you would have heard in the Passion story, when Jesus was put to trial, the people of Jerusalem could not be more keen to have Jesus crucified. Pilate tries three times to show the people that Jesus is an innocent man and that he can find no crime against him. But the people still want to crucify Jesus. Pilate even says I can crucify Jesus or I can let Barabbas go. The people of Jerusalem went from rejoicing at Jesus’s arrival to wanting to crucify him so much that they would let a murder go free.
The contrast shown in the people of Jerusalem during Mass today can make you wonder what happened in so few days to make them change their mind about Jesus. The abandonment of the support of the people allowed Jesus to be crucified. This is so important because Jesus’ death on the cross saved us from our sins and has given us eternal life. Without the people wanting to crucify Jesus there is no crucifixion. You might think: well, why didn’t they want to crucify him as soon as he entered Jerusalem? He was abandoned by people who days earlier had been praising him. When you think of the people who abandoned Jesus you might think of Judus who gave Jesus up to the Romans or maybe Peter who denied knowing Jesus three times. Jesus went to the cross abandoned by not only Judus and Peter but also by the crowds of people.
Try thinking about the times that you abandon Jesus. You might not realise it, but Jesus is present in everyone. So when you abandon the homeless person or the sick person or the person who needs help or a chat you are abandoning Jesus as well. It is worth remembering that when you help those in need you are also helping Jesus.