Palm Sunday is often remembered for the procession and the 'long gospel.' At Mass today we read the Passion according to St Matthew. The events of the Passion are at one and the same time familiar and unfamiliar to us. They are familiar in the sense that we have heard the story so many times that we think we know it. There are unfamiliar in the sense of something new always seems to catch our attention each time that we hear them.
As I was reading the Passion this morning I was struck by the line 'Friend, do what you are here for.' Those words were spoken by Jesus to Judas. It is amazing to think that Jesus, knowing all that Judas was about to do (and indeed how all the other apostles would react in the Passion events) addresses him as friend. I wonder how we would have reacted if we knew that Judas was to betray us to death. We are more than likely to be thinking along the lines of 'come on you old so and so. get one with what you have to do. Betray me and then we can move on.' Thankfully the Lord is more merciful than we are and addresses Judas as His friend.
That same injunction is given to us as well as we stand on the threshold of this Holy Week. Our Lord says to us 'Friend do what you are here for.' Will we walk with the Lord? Will be accompany Him into the Garden of Gethsemane? Will we be with Him as He is nailed to the Cross? Will we enter into the tomb with Him so as to rise with Him on Easter Day?
Friend do what you are here for.
As a child I used to think that there were two crowds. There was the crowd that gathered, cut branches from the trees, spread their cloaks in the road and joyfully welcomed the Lord as he rode into Jerusalem.
Then there was a different crowd of people that pitched up on Good Friday wanted the Lord to be done away with. Their cry was not 'Hosanna to the Son of David' but 'Crucify Him, crucify Him.'
It came as a revelation to discover in my teens that there weren't two crowds. It was the same group of people. The crowds that joyfully welcome the Lord into the city had now turned on Him and were crying for His blood. How fickle people can be. Isn't it so easy to go with the crowd?
As we enter into the events of this Great Week what will you do. How will you react to that command of the Lord: Friend do what you are here for?