On the Reason of Our Lord’s Solemn Entry into Jerusalem.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Reason of Our Lord’s Solemn Entry into Jerusalem.
To-day you are invited to accompany the Saviour of mankind, when, issuing from His temporary retreat, He makes His solemn entry into Jerusalem. Not quietly and so as to escape observation, but in a manner calculated to create a great stir and sensation; not as an ordinary pilgrim going up for the festival, but as a triumphant king, is it our Lord’s intention to enter David’s royal city for the last time. He wishes His entry to be attended by the acclamations of the people, with demonstrations of joy from the crowds who flock from all sides and throng His path. Why is this? What is the reason why the lowly Redeemer adopts a course of conduct seemingly so unlike that which it is His wont to pursue?
1st. From time immemorial it was the custom of the judges of Israel and the sons of kings to ride on asses or mules on festive occasions, or in the processions when peace was proclaimed. It was in order to show what He was in reality, the King and Ruler of the Hebrew people, the Judge not only of the Jews but of the whole human race, that our Lord willed to make a solemn entry into the chief city of His royal ancestors. He whose whole life on earth had been passed in poverty and lowliness, reserved that scene of regal pomp to the last, to the days immediately preceding His Passion, and in His divine wisdom He chose that it should take the form most befitting His character, His dignity, and the object of His mission. He enters Jerusalem as a king, for it was for the purpose of founding God’s kingdom upon earth that He came down from Heaven; He enters as a Judge, for He Himself declared on the occasion of His entry: “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the Prince of this world be cast out.” (St. John xii. 31.) Now the fact that the despised Redeemer should at the close of His life make so solemn, so triumphant an entry into the city of Sion, may serve to remind you of the joyous truth that when this life of misery and contempt on earth is at an end, a glorious entry into the heavenly Jerusalem awaits you. But it is so only on this condition, you must have lived in poverty and abjection for the love of God; you must, like our Lord, be a king and a judge in a mystical sense, that is, you must rule yourself firmly and judge yourself mercilessly, before you appear before the divine Judge of all men. How is it with you in this respect?
2d. Consider that it was customary amongst the Jews to bring the paschal lambs into the city of Jerusalem five days previously to the feast of the Passover, and there to slaughter them with elaborate ceremonial and observance of ritual. Therefore Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, went up five days before He was to offer the sacrifice of His life with great pomp and solemnity to the city of David, where He was to be put to death for the sins of the world. How deeply touching, how affecting it is to think of this! To think how our Lord with the acclamations of the people ringing in His ears, greeted by the shouts of hosanna from thousands of gladsome voices, enters Jerusalem in the character of a king or a prince! Alas! He is in reality the innocent victim, soon to be led to the slaughter; and amid the loud jubilation of the people He has reason to sigh, for this triumphal procession is to Him at the same time the mournful way of the cross. Hence the profound gravity that rested upon our Lord’s countenance on His entry into Jerusalem. Would that you, my soul, could preserve this seriousness, this profound gravity amid all earth’s joys and honors, amid the approval and applause you meet with. Would that you could never allow yourself to be fascinated, carried away, inebriated by them! Here precisely the distinction is to be seen between the earthly-minded and the heavenly-minded, between worldlings and Religious. The former cannot be happy without the pleasures and dignities of earth, while the latter cannot be happy when they fall to their lot, for they feel in this respect with the author of the Imitation, and take upon their lips his prayer: “O my God, unspeakable sweetness, turn for me into bitterness all carnal consolation which withdraws me from the love of things eternal, and wickedly allures me to itself by setting before me some present delightful good.” (Imit. B. iii. ch. 26.)
3d. Consider how willingly, how patiently Isaac of old ascended Mount Moria, where he was to be sacrificed as a burnt offering, and how unresistingly he suffered himself to be bound and laid upon the altar. His fortitude was indeed most astonishing, most admirable! But behold, far more astonishing, far more worthy of admiration is that which our Lord did. Not only did He go to the altar of sacrifice without a murmur, without the slightest resistance: He went with gladness, with exultation; He enters the city where are those who have sworn to put Him to death with rejoicings as great as if He were going to a merry marriage feast. Here you perceive the third reason of this solemn triumphal entry. Our Lord intended to give us an example, to teach us that for the love of God and to accomplish His holy will, we ought to embrace the cross and endure death, not only willingly, but joyfully and exultantly. This the holy martyrs did. When led to torture and to death the world looked on them as criminals led to the gallows, but in reality they were the victors in a triumphal progress, and oftentimes on their way they were cheered by the encouraging cries of their fellow Christians. To all appearances they were being led to the slaughter, but in point of fact they were wending their way with rejoicing to the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem. Why do you not imitate your Lord in this respect? Why cannot you be brought to go with cheerfulness, if not with gladness, where suffering awaits you? It is because you do not think of what is so beautifully expressed in the Imitation of Christ: “Behold all is on the cross, and on dying lies all; and there is no other way to life and true inward peace but the way of the holy cross and of daily mortification. Walk where thou wilt, seek what thou wilt, and thou wilt find no higher way above, no safer way below, than the way of the holy cross.” (Imit. B. ii. ch. 12.) Our Lord walked in that way with gladness on the day of His triumphal and glorious entry. O see that you do not tread that same path shamefacedly and reluctantly, not to say with feelings of aversion.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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