Weekly Reflection, Sunday, April 5, 2020
By: Harry Baldwin
The Liturgy of the Palms for Palm Sunday is a short but powerful story. As Jesus gets closer to Jerusalem, he directs his disciples to get a donkey for him to ride in a parade. People along the roadway proclaimed joyously by waving palm branches that he was the son of David and their king. This action fulfilled what the prophets had said would take place.
I can’t imagine what is going through Jesus’ mind. He knows this action of proclamation and joy is the beginning of his death sentence. While others had no clue of what was going to take place, Jesus knew precisely.
Jesus by all character traits was a true introvert. Given his preference, he would rather be with his family, his disciples, or by himself. He meditated and prayed in private to his Father in heaven. Jesus exhibited his extroverted side in his interactions with large groups, as a celebrity guest at a wedding feast or when a blind man called out to Jesus from a crowd to have Jesus give him sight. He spoke to crowds – 5,000 in one case – who came to hear him, to catch a glimpse of his actions and to listen to his every word.
Jesus’ journey took him from teaching and forming his team of disciples to human temptations and questioning God’s plans for his son. His journey included a parade filled with collective behavior and a backdrop of evil and darkness. Jesus knew where his life’s journey on this earth was leading him – to betrayal and death.
Fast forward over 2,000 years to our own, present day journey. Our journey today takes us into an unknown realm and possible illness at the hands of the Covid-19 virus. Whether introvert or extrovert, we are forced into an isolation of uncertainty. There are times of inappropriate collective behavior and great temptation. We are tempted to go to the store when we should stay home. We are tempted to rationalize that the guidelines MUST apply to others, certainly not us. We are tempted to question the presence of our loving God during this time of illness and death. How could dedicated nurses, skilled physicians and innocent people die by the hands of Covid-19? Will our journey last weeks, months, more than 40 days? We don’t know where or when this journey will end.
Comparing the story of the Liturgy of the Palms to our Covid-19 story, there are parallels. We get whipped up by crowds and confused by what we hear. There is a dark, evil side surrounded by death in both stories. One clear difference is Jesus knew his outcome while the contagious virus’ final chapter is unclear to us.
Jesus’ story makes our story pale in comparison. The lesson for me is that Jesus teaches us trust. He teaches us the power of prayer. He teaches us to have faith in God. Our story of 2020 is very real and we are active participants. By following Jesus in prayer and with faith, we will come to the destination of our journey. We will be alright. The tough times will show God’s love for us. Thanks be to Jesus – Thanks be to God.