“Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.”
Matthew 21: 9
Proclaiming the Good News
In the Gospel reading for the procession of palms, Jesus’ journey finally reaches its destination – Jerusalem. Rome’s representative, Pontius Pilate, has also arrived. Pilate rides into Jerusalem on a war horse past crowds shouting praise – an entrance befitting a conquering ruler.
But Jesus rides on a donkey. The scribes who wrote the Gospel of Matthew emphasize that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecies. They include Zechariah 9: 9.
Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.
But they don’t include the next verse from Zechariah:
He shall banish the war chariot from Ephraim, and the warhorse from Jerusalem. The warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Maybe the scribes didn’t want to give the story away. It is told in the second Gospel reading for Palm Sunday – Jesus' Passion, death, and Resurrection.
In dying and rising, Jesus redefines the good news a ruler brings – Jesus as the Suffering Servant has conquered not new lands but death itself, not with violence but with love; He has restored our relationship with God.
Jean-Jacques de Christ Nganya spoke at the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome in 2016 about the power of the good news in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where inter-ethnic and fratricidal wars have raged for more than twenty years. During years of what he described as “violent murderous madness” Jean-Jacque worked with “certain souls in love with peace and freedom” to found a local chapter of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, in Uvira, drawing on the experiences of the Pax Christi group in nearby Bukavu.
“As a living witness and a victim of the pangs of war in eastern DRC and the region,” Jean Jacque said, “I have resolved to contribute to the search for a peaceful way to solve and end the human barbarisms and widespread, systematic violations of human rights.”
“The task [of co-founding Pax Christi Uvira] was not easy for me,” Jean Jacque said. “It was a very difficult security situation and unsustainable socio-economic situation.” To simply communicate over the internet Jean Jacque had to travel by bicycle to the capital of the neighboring country Burundi.
“Despite difficulties – imprisonment, torture, insecurity, and being taken for a double agent by the political power in place – we held on to our commitment to peace and development by raising community awareness at all levels and for all strata of the population without distinction of sex, religion, ethnicity and race.”
“Nonviolence has become a culture and is gaining ground. Upholding nonviolence as the most appropriate way of life, recommended in the Bible, in the image of Jesus who is nonviolent, we are able to resolve conflicts. We still have a long way to go, but we are moving forward.”
Questions for Reflection
Imagine you were in Jerusalem at that time. Would you join the crowds welcoming Jesus or Pontius Pilate?
What can you do to promote peace as a culture in your life?
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love..
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
– “Peace Prayer” as known as the “Peace Prayer of St, Francis”
Fast from technology. Turn off your cell phone, computer, television. Use that time to care for your relationship with God, the earth, yourself, and others. Go for a walk, explore nature, seek out conversation with neighbors, especially those who are lonely.
Join Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement that seeks to model the Peace of Christ in our witness to the mandate of the nonviolence of the Cross.
If you are in the U.S., join Pax Christi USA, a membership organization that rejects war, preparation for war, every form of violence and domination, and personal and systemic racism. https://paxchristiusa.org/
For other locations, visit the website of Pax Christi International at http://www.paxchristi.net/ and click “member organizations.”
A Maryknoll Missioner says…
“On one occasion after a bombing in our area of Narus, South Sudan, Sister Madeline McHugh and I sat under the trees with about 12 women for prayer and debriefing. We used the Scripture for the coming Sunday from Luke’s Gospel, chapter 6, where Jesus says we are to love our enemies. I asked the group how we would describe an enemy. Most of the women said that their enemy was the Khartoum fundamentalist Muslim government soldiers who were bombing them.
“Then one woman said: ‘I believe my enemy is someone who has wounded my heart, but whose wounds I do not know.’ She went on to say: ‘Maybe, if I can know the person’s story better, especially to know the person’s wounds, and the person can know my wounds, we would not be an enemy to each other.’ The theology of the Sudanese women has deepened my faith, compassion, and forgiveness.”
–SISTER THERESA BALDINI, Maryknoll Sisters, South Sudan