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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Who is that riding into town?

The morning Gospel was Mk 11:1-11. It begins with Jesus' arrival at the Mount of Olives. [This is the same location that a weeping King David ascended to yesterday as he and his mourning retinue fled the capitol city. Now, some one thousand years later (pause and ponder how long that is) Jesus comes from the other direction.] One aspect of the story which bedazzles is when Jesus sends two disciples ahead, where they are told they will find a colt. There are other cases of such power which I have read about. St. Catherine of Siena and Padre Pio were both reputed to see at a distance. This power of Jesus is related matter of factly and it is hard to know how often He exercised it or what mechanism was at work.

The disciples found things just as Jesus said they would be (including some bystanders who asked what they were doing). Jesus mounted the young ass and road it into town amidst the Messianic clamor of His disciples and some others in the crowd. What were they thinking? Some anticipated the fall of Rome and the rise of David's Kingdom. Longing for days gone by, they desired a glory measured in wealth and land. Some thought that Jesus was "another" misguided fool, claiming an authority which was obviously not His to be had. Others probably reveled in what Jesus had done for them. He had healed many and some of the recipients of His largess no doubt cried out the loudest (while perhaps others fumed that He did not heal everyone). The crowds who had been fed by Him probably contributed some attendees. Maybe they hoped only for a supercharged welfare state where Jesus made bread and fish available at no charge each day. From Mark's perspective, no one understood who Jesus really is. In His Gospel, it is the cross (and resurrection) which validate Jesus' true identity. There is a reason why Mark has Jesus constantly repeat, over and over, predictions that He would be turned over, mistreated and abused, crucified and die (and then rise).

Meditating on that crowd I hear echoes of my own cares and concerns. I word my own questions and ponder my own confusion. The excited crowd will change its tune very soon. Trading in "Hosanna in the highest" for "crucify Him!" No doubt both will be articulated with sincerity. Nothing disappoints and increases rage and anger than a Messiah Who fails to do what we want, when we want, and how we want. Love and hate are closely related.

Jesus' public declaration "I am King" was made in an action. However, He is King of Shalom (Melchizedek). He is priest and victim. He is God's presence, emptied of power, full of love. He appears to be useless and pointless to most of the citizens. The cross will be a strong statement of rejection. Yet we who acclaim Him King must also have the courage to stand with Him on Golgotha. The mockery and threats from the powers around us--those who do not believe--are an invitation to humble submission and fidelity to Him, come what may. Jesus, the king, did not ride into town with a conquering army. He makes clear the angel hosts were available if He so chose. Instead, He reveals the depth of love. A love which you and I can trust. And we can pray, "Maranatha, come Lord! Come King Jesus!" And some day He will be with us again. and all will be well.

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