In our history of civilization, great kings and conquerors destroy and devastate entire nations by force, perched upon an experienced war horse amongst thousands of highly skilled soldiers. However, our Great King comes in riding alone, seeking a willful surrender of our greatest treasure, our hearts, sitting on a colt of an ass, an animal of peace and an animal never before ridden. “Cease fearing, O daughter of Sion, behold, thy King cometh, sitting on a colt of an ass.” [Jn. 12:15] Today we here the prophecy repeated from Zechariah written some 500 years before our Lord’s entrance into the Holy city.
And this is only meet and right for the name 'Jerusalem' means 'the City of Peace'; Christ alone, the King of Peace, is therefore Jerusalem’s rightful King. And on this day people line the street and children greet Him with palm branches, the symbols of victory, and they cry 'Hosanna', meaning 'Save, we pray'. Their cry and their efforts are greater than they know, for in their innocence they speak the truth, for Christ alone saves us. The palm branches are symbols of triumph, a Victory for us comes through the Tree of the Cross and the surrendering of our lives to the One who gives us eternal life by conquering death!
This is not just an historic event and a great day in the church, but it is an event that can be repeated at each communion. For whenever we seek peace and humility as if seated on a colt, and come forth as innocent children crying 'Save, we pray', then Christ enters our souls and makes our souls into tiny Jerusalem’s or ‘Cities of Peace’. The soul that upholds the Lord is greeted by the Holy Spirit, who offers that soul spiritual joy which is incorruptible and eternal.
The entry into Jerusalem upon an unbroken colt is also a repetition of Moses’ prophecy that the Gentiles would rejoice in the Lord, but the Jews would be rejected. Here, the unbroken colt “whereon yet never man sat” (Lk. 19:30), is an image of the Gentiles. The garments the Apostles placed on the colt are Christ’s teachings by which the Apostles would later instruct the Gentiles, and the Lord Himself seated spiritually upon the Gentiles loving them and guiding them as His own. He led his people into Jerusalem to the city of salvation and blessedness, a city not made by the hands of men, to the very bosom of the Church. The rejected Jews were also present there. With their lips they cried, “The King of Israel”, but in their hearts they had already decided to kill our Savior.
Today, as we receive our blessed Palm branches, let us take them to our homes and place them somewhere where we can always see them. Let the Palms remind us that Christ is the King of our families and the King of our hearts, and that Christ is the only True answer to happiness and meaning in our lives. And if we do proclaim Christ as our King, let us try and make time for Him in our daily life, let us be reminded that He is the one with whom we will be spending eternity. Let us be reminded that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, and all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. Let us prioritize and place Christ the King as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find True peace and complete happiness in such a confused and complex world. Glory to Thee, O Lord, Glory to Thee!