Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – November 18, 2021
Reflection for the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 11-18-21, Year B
Readings: Mc 2:15-29, Ps 50:1b-2,5-6,14-15, Gospel Lk 19:41-44
Optional Mem: Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Theme: Unwavering Faith
As Jesus comes closer to Jerusalem, the scene is one of an ecstatic crowd, much like one where fans of a famous sports player swarm to him for autographs. People are crowding around Jesus to see Him, to touch Him. They have heard about Him from others and came to see the powerful signs and wonders He was known for working among the people. There are also curiosity seekers, people who really don’t care about Jesus Himself but want to see what all the talk and fuss is about.
The people gathering around Him are a mixture of His own disciples, people from the city, and priests and scribes of Pharisee and Sadducee backgrounds. It is a momentous time in Jerusalem because finally, after three years, this famous person known as Jesus is coming to their city. Jesus, who is peace and salvation itself, chooses to enter in the customary way of a prince who comes in peace, riding on an ass (colt in Luke).
In the Gospel of Luke, this is the first time Jesus is seeing the city of Jerusalem since His boyhood time in the temple many years ago. He knows that His passion, death, and resurrection will happen there soon for the salvation of all of those around Him and all people. He knew that many of the people welcoming and praising Him now will eventually be His persecutors resulting in His death on the cross.
For this reason, Jesus is sorrowful and solemn, not for Himself, but for the people of Jerusalem and their city. It is interesting that Luke contrasts the celebration and singing of His entry with an abrupt stop when Jesus proclaims the ruin of Jerusalem and most of the people there. It is not what they were expecting to hear from Him in His first pronouncements to the people of Jerusalem.
The people, even his own disciples, where unaware of the glory and magnificence of God within their presence. They did not know who was visiting them, for if they did, they would be on their knees in awe and wonder, knowing their unworthiness to even be in His presence. Instead, the celebration was one meant for a celebrity, one who would entertain them with signs and wonders like a magician or stage actor.
For those people welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem, and for many of us, they were not living their faith 24-7-365. If we live our daily lives with our faith as our steersman, we will always look at everything we do or say through that lens. We would know who was in our presence and we would act accordingly. When we see a poor person on the street, we must see Jesus in them. When we want to get angry with our coworker, we must see Jesus in them. When we are in a dark place and in the pit of our addiction and sins, we must recognize Jesus in those around us who want to help.
It takes an unwavering faith that is constant, pure, and manifested in all of our actions to recognize Jesus for who He is, our savior. Our faith should not be swayed by the leaders of this generation to do anything other than the teachings of Jesus Christ. As Mattathias said in the first reading, “God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments.” In the context of salvation history, Jesus is the law and the commandments.
Every moment of our lives should be one that welcomes Jesus into the city of our hearts as the Prince of Peace, riding to us on a colt. But, instead of reveling in the entertainment and celebrity of fame among people, we bow in deep awe, wonder, and thankfulness for God’s presence among us. Know, as Mattathias did, that nothing can usurp the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
As a believer in Jesus, are you willing to stand before men and proclaim, “I have unwavering faith. God forbid I should forsake Jesus Christ”?