Mt 21: 1-11

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.”

This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Freedom to follow Christ

Although many of us, under the virus alert, will not have the traditional procession of Palm Sunday, we all remember the joy of the crowds, welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The same crowds would soon shout, “Crucify him!” or deny ever knowing him.

Today’s liturgy, with its two Gospel readings, calls us to recognize these same opposite forces within our own hearts: the joy of our faith in Christ the King, and the resistance or fear of following him who was “obedient unto death, death on a cross.” Like an undetected virus, our fear of surrender to God’s love can often turn us back from the way of the cross or trap us in devotion to false gods, but the Risen Lord continues to bring healing and new life, the freedom of the children of God.

—Fr. Christopher J. Viscardi, SJ, is a Jesuit of the Central and Southern Province teaching theology at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.


God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of God the Father.

—Ancient Hymn (Phil. 2: 9-11)