Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Though there is no question about the historicity of the entry into Jerusalem, the evangelists go to great lengths to make this Scripture passage highly symbolic:
- Pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem would walk. Only the king or the Anointed would ride in.
- Bethany and Bethphage lie to the east of Jerusalem. Jesus enters Jerusalem from the east, out of the sun, another tradition regarding the Messiah.
- Jesus' foreknowledge about the colt, the foal of an ass, demonstrates that he is in complete control.
- The colt has never been ridden before guaranteeing that it has never been used for an unholy purpose.
- Cultural expectations would dictate that a King or magistrate or military general could commandeer the livestock of a common citizen.
- The people react by spreading their cloaks and palm branches on the road, a gesture to keep the dust from soiling the royal personage.
- The song of the citizenry of Jerusalem is another Messianic tradition. "Hosanna to the Son of David."
The evangelists are recording this event in such a way that those who did not witness it themselves would have no doubt about their intent. As Jesus enters into the mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection, we enter with him and pledge to walk the last few steps of the Lenten journey prayerfully and purposefully.