By Bishop David McGough
`B lessings on the King who comes in the `B lessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens." At Bethlehem the angelic host proclaimed the birth of our Saviour. At the beginning of Holy Week we follow in the footsteps of those who welcomed Jesus into ' Jerusalem.
The Pharisees had been unable to suppress the joy of the exultant crowds. Jesus had countered their criticism with the observation that, should the people be silent, the very stones of Jerusalem would cry out in acknowledgment of the Messiah. The children of Israel had long awaited the promised Messiah, a Messiah who would make Jerusalem and its people his dwelling place. The unrestrained joy that welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday spoke for the unfulfilled hopes of sinful people in every generation. We, no less than the Jerusalem crowds, welcome Christ as the healer of broken hearts and the forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus had been welcomed into Jerusalem as a King taking possession of his kingdom. The accusation nailed above his broken body would read: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." As we follow Jesus through the days of Holy Week, we begin to share in the reality of his kingdom. This kingdom knows nothing of the arrogance of a world that looks only to itself. This is a kingdom that claims nothing for itself, that entrusts itself completely to the Father.
"Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord has opened my ear. For my part I made no resistance, neither did I turn away."
The Kingdom proclaimed by Jesus reversed the disobedience of sin. Sin listens only to itself, cares only for its own convenience and its own desires; it is deaf to the Father's voice and the stirring of conscience. Throughout his Passion and death, Jesus listened only to the Father. The agony in the garden demonstrated that this listening was not without its struggle. "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by," Despite the struggle, Jesus listened to the Father, and in so doing set before us a new way of life. "Let it be as you, not I, would have it." Like the disciples, we would prefer to sleep through the inner struggle that bids us choose between life and death.
When we sin we are deaf not only to the will of God, but also to the needs of those around us. Jesus listened to the pain of a sinful world, listened so carefully that he completely identified himself with that pain. "The Lord has given me a disciple's tongue. So that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech."
We fear to listen to the pain of our own sin lest it lead us to death. Still less are we able to listen to the pain of the whole world. During the days ahead Jesus, in listening to the Father. shares the pain of every heart. He does not resist the death that it threatens, but, in listening to the Father, allows that death to become the way to life. "He was humbler yet, even to . accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all names."
During the days ahead let us pray for the grace of listening, the listening that does not cling to its own importance, but empties itself to become as Christ has become.