As Christians when we think of the Kingdom of God and the establishment of God’s reign, we often focus on things external to ourselves. We may realize with a holy boldness that unjust structures will no longer have a place of toleration in God’s Kingdom. We may decide that economic stability will not overwhelm the necessity of compassion and charity for those who are suffering within our society. We will no longer “turn a blind eye” but will labour and struggle indefatigably, and suffer patiently for the establishment of God’s reign. While these are always a constitutive part of our Christian faith, what do we do when we are shut in our homes, what are we to do when we have been told that the most helpful thing to do is to do nothing? How do we labour in building God’s Kingdom when we can’t leave our homes except to buy food or pick up medicine?
The answer to these questions resides in the full reality of the reign of God, a reality that is growing both outside of and within ourselves. Perhaps given the lives we are all currently living, this Palm Sunday and Holy Week is a moment to shift focus and attention. Perhaps this year it is a privileged time to look to the growth of God’s Kingdom within our hearts, to attend to the gift of life, through love, that God gives to us in the Crucified and Risen Lord.
When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the crowds greet him with great enthusiasm. Many cheered his entrance. Many waved palms above their heads in celebration. Many put cloaks on the road over which he was to travel. They had heard that people considered him the promised Messiah. They had heard of his wondrous actions – just a few days ago he had brought a man named Lazarus back to life! This was the moment, the moment that God would make all things right, the moment that God would fix what has gone wrong. But with each passing step he took farther into Jerusalem, the moment of apparent triumph faded further and further.
I find it of the most incredible beauty that Christ’s days in Jerusalem are not marked by acts of power, such as the giving of sight to the man born blind. It is not that I want God to be merely human like me, nor to be only a moral teacher, but that I want to see that which I need and want more than anything. I want to see and be given eternal love, a love that never goes away. Throughout his life, from his birth in Bethlehem to his public ministry in Galilee, Samaria and Judea, right up to his entrance into Jerusalem, Christ has been spending himself for us. As St. Paul writes,
"Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross."
When Christ entered Jerusalem, the time of acts of power had past. It was now time to proclaim most clearly the heart of his message in a way that we would most understand. In emptying himself, Christ has given us everything he has and possesses. And now in Jerusalem he gives us the last thing he has – he gives us his life.
"Therefore God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
We help God grow his Kingdom within our hearts when we grow in our understanding what Christ has done for us. That he has given us his very life, that he has given us eternal love. In these days of feeling a little trapped in our homes, in reality, we are truly being set free, set free to be loved and to love.