As Christ entered Jerusalem, dozens—even hundreds—of his disciples follow him. Just minutes ago, we remembered that glorious entry and we joined with them (recall that when the Church “remembers”, it actually ‘makes present again’ the event, the happening). The entry was glorious because for each of them, they had seen the marvelous works of Jesus and gave God praise. For us, too, we praise God for the wondrous and glorious deeds that the Lord continues to work in our midst, deeds like:
- The compassion he instills in us as we visit the sick or comfort the dying;
- The mercy he inspires when we grant forgiveness to someone who has harmed us;
- The courage he gives us when we stand up for the oppressed, the bullied, or the victimized;
- The fortitude he grants us when we face, time and time again, an injustice that won’t go away;
- The persuasion of the Spirit that he offers when we are faced with temptation or doubt.
Yes, in these instances, and more, we come in contact with the Christ who we follow into Jerusalem. He comes to his Holy City as our King, and we followed him with palms as an expression of our joy; a joy which recognizes that Jesus has invited us into his friendship, and we have accepted him and his love for us. That’s our joy: it’s an expression of our “yes” to Jesus, and our willingness to go with him wherever he takes us. This joy is rooted, then, in our “following Christ”.
But what does “following Christ” actually mean? At the outset, with his first disciples, the meaning was simple and immediate: it meant that to go with Jesus, these people decided to give up their professions, their affairs, their whole life. It meant taking on a whole new way of being, that is, “discipleship”. Their work, their efforts and endeavors were all focused and aimed at accompanying Jesus…entrusting themselves to his guidance.
Now, sure, while they actually walked behind him—following him—on his journeys, that was not the whole of their discipleship. The rest of their “discipleship” remained in “abandoning themselves to him”. Being totally at Jesus’ disposal—for Goodness—was their interior discipleship.
Alright: what’s that got to do with us?
Well, we remembered the entrance into Jerusalem, and we joined our voices and our very selves to the throngs of disciples, as we held palm fronds in our hands, and followed him. We began again to place ourselves into “a discipleship”…being followers of the Lord Jesus. As we accomplish spiritual and corporal works of mercy in our own times, we further cement this relationship with the Lord.
But, there is “the rest of discipleship” that we might now need to embrace. More than external works, which are still good, we might now be invited to enter more deeply into an interior discipleship; allowing ourselves to be invited and embraced into Truth itself, Beauty itself, Love itself, God Himself.
This invitation of Holy Week draws us to give ourselves over more completely…more fully…more authentically…to the One who is our True Good, our Just Aim, our Right Path. Without counting the cost to ourselves, we are asked to trust the Lord who proved his love for us; we are called to no longer withdraw into our own selfish desires—no longer consider our own fulfillment the main reason for our existence; but rather take hold of the promise held out for those who abandon themselves to Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Right and Love.
And these are not simple abstracts: no, embodied by Jesus Christ himself, these virtues have been enfleshed and can now be acquired by us, Christ’s disciples, who follow after him and the path he trod; who enter into Jerusalem, the Holy City, to accomplish with Christ the works of salvation.
May our hearts—and our souls—be most open to Christ’s invitation this week; he invites each one of us: “Follow me” says the Lord, ”and I will give you life”.