Reflection on Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Dietrich Bonhoeffer 4/30/1944: “You would be surprised, and perhaps even worried, by my theological thoughts and the conclusions they lead to; and this is where I miss you most of all, because I don’t know anyone else with whom I could so well discuss them to have my thinking clarified. What is bothering me incessantly is the question what Christianity really is or indeed who Christ really is, for us today.”
I find this question to be one that is very much in my thoughts on any “today.” Every time I offer to share a reflection on the message in a Sunday Scripture selection I turn again to spend time with the authors of the Gospels and commentaries on the origins of those texts.
For me, the beauty of looking into the origins shows the story of how each of the Gospels came to be. “The fact that we have four Gospels and not just one is a huge plus. Each was written by a different person with a particular audience in mind, and these readerships varied in geographical location, cultural context and religious background.” (Excerpt from “How to Read the Bible,” Harvey Cox) They have at their core the person – Jesus Christ and his concern for and response to the events in people’s lives.
After the Crucifixion, the disciples and all who had come to accept Jesus the Messiah now had a faith community to create. So they met and prayed together, faced the opposition that would come from setting aside, in the beginning, whatever were their traditional beliefs.
So I can imagine they could be sitting alongside D. Bonhoeffer as he questions what Christianity really is or indeed who Christ really is. This requires a personal response.
I am impressed with the response of the crowd in today’s Gospel. They must be aware of the local talk about the criticism that has been voiced by officials of the temple and the Roman authorities. No evening TV news, but word gets around. They step up to the moment, cry out in a loud voice, “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord: … this is Jesus the prophet.”
I can think back to marches and demonstrations that I have attended and know the feeling of being surrounded by the energy of a moment of heartfelt affirmation.
This is the moment we keep within as we read in Matt. 16:15, “Who do you say I am.”