This is one of the very few occasions that we have two gospels in one Mass. And I have often said how contrasting these two are. My homily for this week is not as long as usual since at this time homilies are optional because of the length of the gospel reading and the story of the Passion itself should make us reflect more on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.
The first gospel reading is about the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem riding on a colt and all the people were cheering his arrival. They lay down cloths and cut up branches and people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David”, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” You could just imagine all the cheering among the crowd as Jesus entered the gates of Jerusalem. And the whole of Jerusalem was shaken.
In the second gospel reading, which is very long, the opposite happened. This gospel reading tells us of the story of Jesus’ passion and death. The story starts with the Last Supper, then it proceeds to the arrest and trial of Jesus in which he was found guilty of blasphemy, then because the Jews were not allowed to impose the death penalty on anybody, they had to send Jesus to Pilate the Roman governor and they had to change the charge to accusing Jesus of being “King of the Jews”. And then Pilate asked the people to make a choice between Jesus and the revolutionary Barabbas. And the people chose Barabbas instead and when Pilate asked what to do with Jesus, they cried out, “Crucify him!” And then Jesus was scourged and mocked by the Roman soldiers with the crown of thorns and the sceptre and a purple robe. Then Jesus was led outside to carry his cross and crucified and died.
For me, there is one glaring issue that we should reflect on as we start the Holy Week - how come these people who shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David” on Sunday would be shouting “Crucify Him” on Friday? I think it is because people who had very little understanding about the person of Jesus were able to change their minds about him quite easily. And the same can also happen to us.
If we, as Christians, were ever to be persecuted, how many of us would continue to profess to being Christians? Or would we deny Jesus because of the penalties that we might have to pay for being Christians?
The two gospels for today should lead us to examine our convictions of following Christ. Would we follow him all the way even if it means giving up our lives for our faith? Or would we give in to the world at the first sign of inconvenience? In other words, when we are asked, what are we going to shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David?” or “Crucify Him!”