Grace: wonder and sorrow, as our Lord labors so diligently for us even though He is shunned by all.
Reflection: Palm Sunday is over. With Jesus’ grand procession and then driving out the money-changers from the temple, it was an exciting day to be a follower of Jesus. But the excitement is starting to wear out.
Jesus came into the Temple every day to teach. Once, He had stood in the Temple before the doctors of the law and amazed them. Now, the scribes and Pharisees plot to bring Him down. They cannot simply get rid of Him; He is too popular. But they challenge His authority to try and trap Him with various questions. He warned of the difficult days that lay ahead for anyone who followed Him. This must have been a shock to the people who saw Him enter into Jerusalem in glory and cause such a commotion in the Temple. Jesus must have seemed unstoppable then. To get on board with Jesus meant to follow the winning team all the way into an easy victory. But now Jesus is proclaiming long, protracted struggles, telling His followers that “you will be seized and persecuted, you will be handed over to the synagogues and to imprisonment, and brought before kings and governors for the sake of My Name” (Lk. 21:12).
Still, even after this people crowd around Him in the Temple all day long to hear Him teach. Yet for all their enthusiasm, not one of them took Jesus into their home. He spent His nights sleeping outdoors on the Mount of Olives in Bethany, a town about five miles away from Jerusalem. The crowds of people gathered around Him were as thick as those surrounding any modern celebrity. But no one thought to provide Him with a roof over His head. No one would let Jesus in.
Their response to Jesus is just another fad. He is the prophet! He is the teacher who will show you how to finally transform your life and live in God’s covenant! But what is transformed and different? In his encyclical Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict points out that our faith is not just informative, but performative. We do not just hear nice things and come away better informed, but we are moved to act on what we have learned. But here, when it is time for the rubber to meet the road, nothing happens.
In many respects, their response is like the first class of men. They may not be sinning, but neither are they taking any meaningful steps to do what God is asking of them. The response now is lukewarm, and things are no more difficult than usual. But to follow Jesus means sooner or later following Him to the Cross. If we cannot follow Him or respond to anything He says in moderate times, still less will we be able to stay by Him in challenging times.
Questions: What keeps the people from letting Jesus into their homes? How does He react to this? Why does He keep coming back to the Temple if nothing new is happening?