He must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly (Mt 16:21)
There is excitement in the air. Within sight is the destination that gladdens pilgrims who pine for the house of God (Ps. 122). The “strongly compact” city evokes, moreover, justice, peace and security.
But the disciples brim with joy above all because Jesus will soon reclaim Jerusalem and will cleanse the temple. To them, he is the Messiah, the Liberator of the oppressed. And the more they find everything as he has told them, the more they are thrilled. Zechariah’s prophecy, I suppose, is not lost to them (9:9: 14:4-5).
And those who make up Jesus’ entourage surely believe even more upon noticing the generosity of the colt’s owners. They cannot be any less willing than these unknown folks to give Jesus due recognition. And if they do not have the means to set apart for him something like the colt “on which no one has ever sat,” still they can offer him their cloaks that, although used, they need in order to live.
This gesture is contagious: the people spread their cloaks on the road. The people in turn move the disciples to display greater enthusiasm, which keeps growing the closer they get to their destination. Thankful for the mighty deeds in behalf of those in need (cf. Ps. 118), and so carried away by their emotions that it does not even occur to them that the Roman authority may crush them as revolutionaries, they loudly proclaim Jesus Messiah and King.
The people and the disciples rouse one another, then, to proclaim their faith. This mutual support is indispensable to perseverance in following the one who puts himself at the ahead of the march toward Jerusalem. This supportive love is necessary for the strengthening of the faith, the building up and the growth of the believing community, the development of credible Christian apologetics and the setting up of an unbreakable defense against anti-Christian currents.
We grow in faith, yes, when we see everything as Jesus has predicted. But this does not belie our slowness of heart to grasp that the cross is the tree of life, notwithstanding the predictions of Isaiah and of Jesus himself. As it turns out, Jerusalem spells opposition and death, necessary before entry into glory can be attained.
The horror of the passion and the crucifixion gives us reason to leave Jesus and the victims of injustice who are without peace and security. If we do not flee altogether, we only follow at a distance, ready to deny them without thinking. Do we dare come to their defense? Do we not time and again get carried away by unfettered capitalism, excessive consumerism and ideologies that crucify those already left with nothing?
There are so many stumbling blocks that indeed divided we fall. We need the community so we may encourage one another to always remember that “we live in Jesus Christ by the death of Jesus Christ and that we ought to die in Jesus Christ by the life of Jesus Christ and that our life ought to be hidden in Jesus Christ and filled with Jesus Christ and that in order to die like Jesus Christ it is necessary to live like Jesus Christ” (P. Coste I, 295). Solidarity is necessary so that we may “be loving not only in great and exceptional moments, but above all in the ordinary events of daily life” and that “we may abstain from what we do not really need and help our brothers and sisters in distress” (cf. the intercessions, Morning Prayers, Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent).
And we cannot stay away from our assembly (Heb. 10:25), if we want to remain excited on account of Jesus, not so much that one whom we dress up with the silken garments of Roman emperors and aristocrats with escort, but as this one who is obedient even to death on a cross, without clothes, between two criminals, and who makes of the poor a Church.