Archive for July 16th, 2018

Matthew 21:1-11: Shaking the World

Monday, July 16, 2018

Footnotes and commentary will explain much to us in today’s Noontime. The poetic parallelism we find with the words ass and colt in the citation from Zechariah 9:9 may justify the thinking that Matthew was a Gentile; a man practicing the Jewish faith would be accustomed to hearing these double allusions from their rabbi and not confuse the prophecy with reality. We might also learn more about the custom of strewing palm branches during the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:39-40 and 2 Maccabees 10:5-8) when rededicating a Temple. And finally, scholars will be able to tell us that Matthew uses the participle shaken in verse 11 that was commonly used in the apocalyptic literature of Jesus’ time. In Matthew 8:24 the storm is described with this same verb and the noun in that verse literally means earthquake. Matthew wants to tell us that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem literally and figuratively shakes the world out of its complacency. (Senior 20, 44-45) This prophet from Nazareth in Galilee who heals the sick, feeds the multitudes, and forgives sins has come to set the world afire . . . and the world is clearly shaken by this message: The Temple is about to fall.

I have friends and family who insist that Jesus came to live with us only so that we might learn how to “get along” with everyone. This thinking conveniently reinforces the idea that living in a loving community means that we turn blind eyes to dishonesty and greed. This view will also have us thinking that in Luke 12:49 and Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus cannot possibly mean that even family members will be pitted against one another when they understand the true meaning of Jesus’ message. For some it is difficult to believe that Jesus is telling his followers – and us – that the habits of a lifetime will have to change: complacency about corruption must end, we cannot condone the oppression of the marginalized, or affirm lies and gossip. We must cease living in excess and we must become humble, patient, and persevering in order to enter the kingdom. We can see why Jesus’ message shook the world in his own time . . . and why his message continues to shake the world today.

When we read these verses and we feel compelled to place the palm branches of our lives on the roadway to welcome this amazing healer who will always put himself last, we must also be willing to follow him into the Temple when he cleanses it.  When we raise our voices in thanksgiving to say Hosanna in the highest, we must also be willing to weep with the women and John the Beloved Apostle to mourn the emptiness of the world without Jesus.  When we shout out to the doubters: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee; we must ready ourselves for the cataclysmic shaking that will turn us in a new and life-giving direction we had not thought possible for ourselves or others.  We must ready ourselves for the shaking of the world and the rebuilding of the Temple.  And so we pray . . .

When the earth yawns open to swallow us whole, let us stand firm on the lessons Jesus has taught us. 

When the coming storm gathers dust into lethal clouds, let us hunker down to shelter in the arms of our loving God.

When Jesus shakes the world into God’s new reality, let us not cry out against it. 

Let us welcome this shuddering new birth . . . knowing that with the passing of the storm the Spirit who has abided with us . . . will nourish us anew. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.20, 44-45. Print. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 25, 2011.

Images from: http://www.simonedwards.me/?p=76 

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