“When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?'” – Matthew 21:10
The whispers whip round the jam-packed streets –
Whispers? Well, no. The roar of the crowd
means a whisper is shouted, and may not be heard
by the hearer intended.
“Who is this?” they wonder, and some have their answers:
“He’s a healer,” say some, “with remarkable power.
So many return from him joyfully home!”
The sick cry “Hosanna! O save us!” today.
“Who is this?” they wonder, and some say, “A teacher,
a rabbi, a preacher with wonderful tales.
He’ll challenge you, certainly, if you are careless.
If you take time to listen, he’ll make you wise.”
“Who is this?” they wonder, and some say, “A monarch,
Messiah, Anointed One: he’ll free us from Rome.”
When they cry, “Hosanna!” it echoes with anger
and yearning for freedom from Empire’s yoke.
“Who is this?” they wonder, and some say, “A rebel,
a bringer of trouble, a sinner, a punk.
Just watch: all these people will raise swords tomorrow,
and on Tuesday the Romans will slaughter us all.”
“Who is this?” they wonder, and some have their answers.
“Who is this?” they ask and the rider is silent.
“Who is this?” they ask, little realizing the word
being spoken in silence on a donkey’s foal.
“Who is this?” they wonder, as the beast ambles on.
The Anointed One, yes, but the Humble One as well,
who would rule as a healer, and guide as a teacher,
but will save as One utterly faithful to God.
A poem/prayer based on Matthew 21:1-11, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading for Year A, Sixth Sunday in Lent, Liturgy of the Palms.
The image is Entry of Christ into Jerusalem by Master of San Baudelio de Berlanga (1125) – photographed by Zambonia 2011-09-29, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17158568.