The liturgy today begins with the reading of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. There, he was received as the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel. To the people, Jesus is the promised King of Israel who will deliver them from the Romans and unite David’s kingdom.
John comments: his disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. The triumphant entry of Jesus must be viewed through the lens of the crucifixion and resurrection. If this was only viewed on the surface level, we have Jesus entering Jerusalem as the King of Israel, but a few days later, he was killed as a false Messiah. But when we view this through the lens of the resurrection, we see that Jesus is setting a kingdom, not of the earth, but of heaven. His is a different kingdom from what we know. He is a king different from what is expected.
The First Reading shows us this confidence of Jesus when it said The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced, therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. In spite of what Jesus will endure, he trusts God will not put him to shame.
The Second Reading tells us that Jesus is human and yet, he is God from the beginning, co-equal to the Father, but he took on the form of a slave and was obedient to the Father to the point of death. It is precisely this obedience to the Father, where Jesus endured death, that the Father raised him from the dead, and that every knee shall bend and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. The death of Jesus is not the end. It is in fact the total emptying of himself to the Father that allows the Father to raise Jesus from the dead.
The Gospel, while quite long, shows us the suffering and death of Jesus. We see how Jesus was prepared for his death. We also read of the institution of the Eucharist where he makes himself available to future believers; we read of his prayer in Gethsemane, the betrayal, arrest, trial, and eventually death of Jesus. The triumphant entry of Jesus makes sense when we look at all these readings.
Jesus rides in triumph to Jerusalem to establish the kingdom of God. But viewed from the perspective of the death of Jesus, this kingdom is not a political kingdom that conquers through human power and might. This is the kingdom that conquers through the power of God when we totally empty ourselves to him. It is a kingdom that rises above death to new life. It is a kingdom founded on Jesus Christ who is Lord of all.
Lord, here I am, suffering and overwhelmed. Yet, I proclaim you as my Lord. Here I am, I proclaim you as Lord. Teach me to empty myself to you so you may fill me. Teach me to die with you so you may raise me. Come Lord Jesus. I trust you.