The Kingdom of God
by Norm Tanck, CSB
We have arrived scripturally and liturgically in Jerusalem. There are two alternate Gospel readings for the blessing of Palms (Mk 11:1-10 and Jn 12:12-16) that remind us that Jesus had come there as crowds of pilgrims were gathering to celebrate the Feast of Passover. For the Jews this was a feast that celebrated their freedom from slavery in Egypt but also looked forward to the time when Messiah would come and free them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. It would not be too much of a stretch of the imagination to see Jesus’ arrival as a protest march confronting the Empire, proclaiming that its power would end, hopefully soon. But it is much, much more than that. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus arrives riding a colt, which could be a horse (only Matthews’s Gospel says it’s a donkey). He comes riding in like a king, while people place their cloaks on the ground, a gesture usually reserved for royalty. At the same time, they are waving leafy branches and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”. That kingdom would come sooner than, I am sure, the crowds may have expected or hoped for. But it would be much different than the kingdom of their dreams. It would be a kingdom that transcends political powers and boundaries. It would be an eternal, universal kingdom of justice and peace. A kingdom where even death would not hold God’s people captive. It was the Kingdom of God. When we read about the suffering and death of Jesus today and on Good Friday it is important for us to look beyond the Cross, and even the Resurrection, to see that the Kingdom of God is breaking through and that we have been invited to live in it forever. The Triduum (Holy Thursday through to the Easter Vigil) is a celebration of our liberation from sin and death and of our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.