PALM SUNDAY BREAKFAST: It Is Not Only Judas that Failed Jesus
Before the Procession: Matthew 21:1-11, At The Mass – Isaiah 50:4-7, Philippians 2:6-11, Matthew 26:14-27:66
Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, ushers us into the Holy Week, commemorating Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, on the road to His agony and passion. It is associated in many churches with the blessing and procession of palms.
Today, we celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem riding humbly on a donkey. Jesus enters the city where He will be mocked, tortured, stripped and crucified and eventually lead us to conquer death.
The liturgy begins with a blessing and procession of palms, then the lengthy reading of the Passion, with parts taken by the priest, lectors, and congregation.
The palms are often taken home by the members of the congregation to serve as sacramental (sacred signs of the sacraments) and burned the following year to serve as the ashes for Ash Wednesday.
Because of the lengthy nature of today’s readings, we deem it pertinent to take a few points home from today’s readings and celebration.
The Humble but Powerful King.
Jesus’ triumphant entry marked Him a King but a different one indeed. In the Jewish tradition, the palm branch is always a symbol of triumph and victory (Leviticus 23:40; Revelation 7:9).
In 2 Kings 9:13, Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, received the customary announcement of a king with the spreading of cloaks upon the ground. Jesus, the Messianic King, was given a similar honour.
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:8). an acknowledgement of His Kingship and Davidic and Divine Origin.
Normally, when kings and Romans came to Jerusalem, they always try to impress the people with their importance. They ride great horses and dress in rich garb.
They entered the city trailing an entourage of soldiers and servants but the Son of God came into the Holy City accompanied, not by soldiers and servants, but by a band of disciples. He came riding, not on a horse, but on the colt of a donkey.
His humble procession made a statement. It proclaims that the Almighty God chooses to work, not through displays of power, but through displays of humility.
We saw a replica of this at Christmas. We saw a baby born, not in a palace, but in a stable. Here, God the Son dressed, not in fine silks and linens, but in swaddling clothes. In this lowly state, he was attended, not by princes and courtiers, but by lowly shepherds.
On Palm Sunday, we see it again. Jesus comes into Jerusalem in a way that proclaims his humility. Despite His lowly entry into the city, He was hallowed by all.
Therefore, this lowly but grand entry reveals not only the humility of Jesus but showcases His power. He is a humble and powerful King. This shows that humility conquers all.
Hosanna in the Highest.
Today, the people were crowded around the gate watching Jesus enter the city, and they were celebrating and calling out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
The word hosanna comes from a Hebrew word meaning “save now” or “save us, we pray.” The first word of Psalm 118:25 is howosiah-na, translated as “Save us!” and the crowd’s use of this word at the triumphal entry was significant—especially as they waved palm branches.
By saying “hosanna” as Jesus passed through the gates of Jerusalem and referring to David and David’s kingdom, the Jews were acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah.
The Jews had been waiting a long time for the fulfilment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicle 17:11–14; 2 Chronicles 6:16, and their shouts of “hosanna in the highest” indicated the hope that their Messiah they have been waiting for had finally come to save them.
Sadly, the salvation that the people of Jerusalem wanted that day was political, not spiritual. They think Jesus their political has now come to liberate them from the bondage and slavery in the hands of the Romans and other foreign dominations.
So, they were shouting “save Us Now”. The point is that what they are shouting is true because Jesus has come to save them now.
The only point of difference is that the type of freedom the people are yearning for is totally different from the spiritual freedom that Jesus brings.
They forgot the most important freedom, which is freedom from Sin and satanic bondage to that of political freedom.
Today, we have abandoned the main focus of our existence to pursue shadows. We have abandoned God to pursue things that will eventually end here.
We have darkened our souls with the sins we commit to replenish and pleasure our bodies, yet the body we try to impress will end up here as dust.
Man has abandoned the spiritual to pursue shadows. Sometimes, they kill, kidnap, and deceive to achieve this, yet they will leave all these to the world beyond. It is not only Judas that has failed Jesus, we are in the same crew. We have also failed Jesus.
2. Secondly, Many times we ask God for something or for blessings but later what we see are suffering upon suffering, difficulties and challenges.
Sometimes we begin to question God not knowing that the suffering is for good. Our ways and God’s ways are not the same.
As the people shouted “hosanna in the highest,” little did they know that, what they would actually mean is that Jesus had come to save them (Luke 19:10).
It may not be in the manner they desired, but this is what Jesus has come to do. Remember what the scripture says “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
So, despite that what they desired is political freedom, their cries for salvation and their demand that it come “now” were answered with the cross.
So, Sometimes behind the cross, there is still an answer to our prayers. Behind the cross, there are still enormous blessings awaiting us. Let us never lose faith in God.
If We are Jesus.
If we are Jesus, would we have done it that way? Would you have entered Jerusalem on a donkey, not minding if you are divine? Can we enter such a grand event riding just a colt?
No, we would have entered with a mighty and great reception, riding on the most expensive jet. Like Jesus, can we be able to sacrifice our life for the good of others? Okay let’s put it this way; can we sacrifice even the little we have to save a soul? Can we sacrifice our time, energy, resources etc to touch lives?
It is very difficult, not to talk about allowing ourselves to die for others. I doubt it! Rather we will like to feed on the sufferings of the people just like many politicians are doing during this hard moment, increasing the prices of goods, and filling up the media with lies for the sake of money.
It is not only Judas that has failed. Politicians and their followers have failed woefully, yet they will come back and tell us that whatever happened is the will of God.
Political leaders have betrayed Jesus more than Judas Iscariot, yet they will be the first to mention the name of God after rigging elections.
2. Secondly, God would have installed Jesus there on a throne, high and lifted Him up. But God did not care about installing Jesus on a throne in the Temple. God cared about installing Jesus on the throne of our hearts.
God wants Jesus to be the Lord of our lives in every century. He conquers with love and selflessness and not with power and intimidation.
He would have sent thunder to cripple His enemies, yet Jesus remained calm and allowed the will of God to enjoy its course.
If we are in His position we will vaporize all our enemies, we will not like anyone to see the light of day except us. Let us learn from the Master.
It is Not Only Judas who Failed Jesus.
After reading the gospel narrative, it is well understood to blame Judas for betraying His master. Judas must be well-trusted by Jesus.
In John 12:6, John tells us that Judas is always in charge of the money bag. This is the first point that shows that Jesus must have trust in Judas.
The second point is that Judas eats with Jesus on the same plate. (Matthew 26:21). What this surely entails is that even the closest companion can betray our trust even when we least expect and from who we least expect that.
So, the point of today’s homily is that Judas is not the only one who fails and betrays Jesus. Let us have a little gist once more.
1. After celebrating the Passover meal, Jesus takes James and John and Peter with him to retreat to Gethsemane to pray. As Jesus pours his heart out in grief, His closest friends, James, John and Peter cannot even keep their eyes open. They were deeply asleep.
These are His three closest companions remember, As the crowds arrive with swords and clubs, James runs away secretly. Who among us knew how James escaped from Gethsemane?
I do not think any of the apostles around him knew, because it would have appeared in their gospel narratives. Mark 14:46–50 says they all left him and fled. They could not defend their master. The companions disappointed and failed their master.
They claimed to love Jesus but in the time of tribulation, we did not know again how they disappeared. Some of us are like this too.
As we approach the end of this Lenten season, many Christians who claimed to have a special love for Jesus never cared if there was anything lent or not.
Many of us continued in our usual lifestyle, while we remember the sufferings of the one they said they Love. It is certain that our love for Jesus seems to be fake. We all have failed Jesus.
2. Secondly, Beloved, it is at the time of tribulation, we can know that only God can stand for us. While Jesus is taken to the house of the high priest, Peter follows into the courtyard. But instead of honouring his teacher, Peter denies Him three times.
Peter denied Jesus, not in the presence of governors or kings, at least we can say it may be out of fear, but Peter denied Jesus even in the presence of a maid (John 18:17, Matthew 26:71-72) and bystanders in Mark 14:70 etc.
He would have used that precious moment to bear witness to the master but Peter did otherwise. Therefore, Peter also failed Jesus.
We have to know that It is at this time of suffering and challenges that we can bear witness to the God we said we love. It is not a time to lose faith.
Friendship is for better or for worse. During Christmas, Christians came out en masse and celebrated Christmas. But When Lent came, many ran away. They were not able to walk with that Jesus they said they love in times of penance and suffering. They failed Jesus again. We have failed Jesus.
3. Thirdly, what of the crowd shouting hosanna? When they saw that Jesus had been arrested, they turned from shouting Hosanna to shouting Kill Him and crucify Him.
Not even one person stood for Jesus. Jesus fed the crowd, healed a lot of people and taught many. But in times of agony, they also failed Jesus. Therefore, it is not only Judas that failed Jesus. The crowd he saved also failed Him.
In the end, only a Gentile centurion and a number of women stay faithful to Jesus. No one in his inner circle, no one with religious responsibility, and no one with civil power do anything at all to stand for Jesus. This is life for us.
It is the time of challenges when our faith and love are tried, we can know who is who. Therefore, when we lose faith in Jesus because we had a little challenge, we also failed Jesus.
So, it is not only Judas that failed Jesus, all the Christians who lost their faith at the time of the test, also failed Jesus Christ.
4. The last people to bring in here are the apostles and 72 disciples. None of them even showed up. In fact, no one knew where they ran to.
We understand that they could be afraid, that their hope has been dashed to the ground. They could be afraid that they may also be arrested.
But the question is that later, John the beloved apostle later came to the foot of the cross in John 19:25-27. Now, what of other apostles?
It was obvious that none of them was aware of what happened to their master. They abandoned their master, even at the foot of the cross.
They also failed Jesus. Therefore, we also fail Jesus when we only remember Him when things are working well for us or when we need Him but when things are not working well for us, we abandon Him to seek a solution elsewhere. We have failed Jesus also.
1. Finally just like Judas, Peter, the crowd etc, we have betrayed, denied and abandoned Our Master. The worst betrayal we can do to anyone is to repay such a person with evil after being good to us and sacrificing many things for our welfare yet we repay him or her with evil.
This is what we have done and this is what we have continued to do. It is not only Judas that has failed. We have failed Jesus too.
The church in her wisdom is calling us all to join the celebration of the Holy week, make the week holy and change from the evil ways we do. We have failed Jesus, betrayed and denied Him by the way we live our lives.
2. As many people abandoned Jesus today during the time of His suffering, we have to know that such a thing will always happen.
Let us not expect every person to be there for us both in good and in bad times. Many people who come to us have selfish desires and when they seem not to get what they want, they leave you.
The best time to know those who are for you is always in the time of suffering. It is at that time, that you will understand that you are just alone.
3. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Judas would have pointed Jesus to them. He would have shaken hands with Jesus but he did not do any of those.
The point is that Kissing is a sign of trust. It is not just a sign of love but one that shows deep trust and commitment.
Therefore, Judas chose to kiss Jesus. He is presenting to Jesus that He still loves Him and is deeply committed to Jesus. But behind this kiss is an evil intention.
Therefore, we have to know that not all acts of love are indeed love. Love is true when it comes from the heart.
There are many today who come to us with smiles, fake kisses, and fake signs of commitment. Their words are very sweet but behind the things they say are tons of evil, envy, jealousy and hatred for you. Let us be wary of the Judas Kisses.
God bless you and Happy Sunday.
Fr. Sanctus Mario Okey