On the Behavior of the People on the Occasion of Our Lord’s 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 Behavior of the People on the Occasion of Our Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem.
Hitherto, in meditating upon this subject, your eyes have been fixed upon the Saviour of mankind, journeying up to Jerusalem; to-day turn your attention to the surging crowds that surround Him. A vast concourse of people had come up to Jerusalem on account of the approaching festival. All of them had already heard of the great Thaumaturgus of Nazareth, who healed all manner of sickness, who stilled the stormy waves, and fed thousands with a few loaves of bread. Now in addition to these wonders there was a new, an unparalleled miracle: the raising of Lazarus from the dead when decomposition had already set in. An enthusiastic admiration for our Lord was the ruling sentiment of the populace; they saw in the great Prophet, the looked-for Messias, only an earthly monarch, it is true, one who they hoped would re-establish the kingdom of David. Accordingly when they see Him coming down from the Mount of Olives, the multitudes hasten to meet our Lord with shouts of exultation.
1st. “Hosanna! blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the kingdom of our father David that cometh, Hosanna in the highest.” (St. Mark xi. 9.) Such are the cries wherewith they greet the Saviour. Even the children by the wayside catch the general enthusiasm, and unite their voices to swell the chorus of hosanna, thus fulfilling the words of the Psalmist: “Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings Thou hast perfected praise.” (Ps. viii. 3.) Endeavor to realize the effect of this vast tribute of praise with which the streets of Jerusalem rang, and reflect upon the manner in which you ought to receive and salute your Lord, when He enters into your heart, when He descends upon the altar, when He is enthroned in the tabernacle, in meekness and lowliness. . . You ought to hasten joyfully to His presence, as the people did, when the time comes to sing His praises. Alas! if the very children shout hosanna when the Redeemer draws near, what can be said of a Priest who neglects to offer to God his daily sacrifice of praise? If Jews press forward eagerly to magnify the name of the Lord, what must be thought of the monk who reluctantly, bitterly, grudgingly, drags himself (if we may so speak) to the choir when the divine Office is to be sung? It is recorded of the saintly Capuchin Father Jerome of Novaria that when he was sick, he insisted on being carried into the choir, and when old and infirm, he invariably stood up in his place, because he considered saying the Office an occupation of the angels, and he thought it becoming to stand up and raise his eyes to Heaven, and sing the divine praises with as much devotion as if he had already joined the denizens of the celestial courts. Reflect upon this, my soul, and you will recite the Breviary with as much piety and recollection as St. Francis did; he made a rule of always pausing on a journey when the time came for the divine Office, for he said: “If the body must needs rest, in order to take the food necessary to sustain nature, ought not the soul all the more to be undisturbed when it partakes of the spiritual nourishment which is to fit it for entering upon life eternal?”
2d. Consider that the people were not content with a tribute of praise. St. Matthew expressly tells us: “A very great multitude spread their garments in the way.” (xxi. 8.) This they did to testify their subjection, to acknowledge Him as their King to whom they owed allegiance, to whom they paid homage by humbly laying themselves and all they possessed at His feet. Learn from this, my soul, what you ought to do when your Lord comes to you. Not only ought you to offer Him a sacrifice of praise, not only ought you to honor Him with your lips, you ought above all to offer Him the oblation of your heart, to give yourself wholly to Him, to surrender to Him all you are and all you have, in lowly abjection placing yourself at His feet. Pause a moment and only think who you are, and who Christ is! You will then assuredly feel that you cannot do better than cast, not your garments, but yourself at your Saviour’s feet in lowly subjection, saying in the words of the Imitation: “Oh how humble and lowly ought I to think of myself! How little ought I to esteem whatever good I may seem to have! How low ought I to cast myself under Thine unfathomable judgments, Lord, when I find myself to be nothing else but nothing, yea nothing! O weight immense, O sea impassable, where I find nothing about myself but that I am wholly nothing!” (Imit. B, ii. ch. 14.) Such are the dispositions wherewith a saint stands in our Lord’s presence; what ought to be the thoughts that fill your mind, what the attitude of your soul when He comes to abide with you? See that you at least lay the garment of self-seeking on the ground, and whenever you approach your Redeemer spread out in the way, with true contrition, the robe of confession of sin, in order that you may not give your Lord a worse reception than the Jews did.
3d. Consider another act the Jewish people performed on the occasion of our Lord’s entry: “Others cut boughs from the trees and strewed them in the way.” This we read in St. Matthew’s gospel (ch. xxi. 8) and St. John also expressly states: “A great multitude that was come to the festival day, when they had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him.” (St. John xii. 12.) Palm-branches which are carried in triumphal processions and on festive occasions are a symbol of victory. When our Lord makes His entry into our heart, we ought to go forth to meet Him with the same trophies of victory which the Jews carried when they went out to greet the approaching Redeemer; we ought never to come before our gracious Lord without having at least one victory to show over our passions and corrupt inclinations. Now make this resolution, my soul; say to yourself: From henceforth never will I come before the Most Holy God without a palm-branch, without having previously mortified myself in some particular. Do this, and you will make rapid progress. The saints acted thus, and therefore the Church represents them with palms in their hands, and it is in reference to this that St. Theophylact says: “Let us also strew the path of our life by cutting down boughs from the trees, in other words, by imitating the saints. For the saints are trees whose branches we cut off when we follow the example of their virtues.”
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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