I have a fantasy, if you like, about Palm Sunday : about the crowd that cheered, and ‘Hosannah-ed’, and waved branches and threw palms and cloaks beneath the feet of that donkey that carried Our Lord into Jerusalem.
All the Gospel accounts say, you may remember, that there was a ‘crowd’ of people; but Luke is more precise : ‘the whole group of disciples joyfully began to praise God at the top of their voices for all the miracles they had seen.’
What I like to think is that, amongst that crowd, amongst those throwing branches and garments before Him, were those disciples whom we never hear of by name . . . and I like to think that, perhaps, that first Palm Sunday was really special for them, because it was a day out for the lepers whose limbs were sound again; the blind who could see again; even Lazarus, and the boy from Nain, and Jairus’ daughter . . .
I’m sure that the historians will tell me that, no, it was just a popular clamour of people supporting the concept of a rebellion against Roman Rule; a crowd hoping that here, at last, was the Messiah who was to drive the Romans out of Palestine . . . and they may very well be right.
But, I have some faith in S. Luke; he was, after all, a doctor – and an observant one, too – and he is the one person who speaks of a ‘whole group of disciples’ . . . am I being so fanciful to think that perhaps, for that one day, so many people came to gave thanks ‘for all the miracles’ they had not only seen, but also experienced personally ?
At the same time, it wasn’t a grand parade like the Lord Mayor’s Show in London, the S. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, or the Rose Parade in Pasadena . . . it was just an impromptu, lively, gathering; an excited crowd of people who decided to follow Jesus, and make much of Him . . . and what more likely that the many who owed Him so much would want to be ‘in on the act’ ?
Of course, Jesus knew it was going to happen : that was why He sent the Apostles for the donkey and its colt; but even that wasn’t anything grand – no caravan of camels, nothing elaborate : just an ordinary working beast . . . and here I come to an unashamed commercial.
I have two friends who have left behind a comfortable retirement in England to go and look after working donkeys in India. None of the beasts they care for will be hearing Hosannahs today, I shouldn’t think; but if you are interested, you may like to look at their website . . . and if it moves you, perhaps you might like to make a small donation to their work : because Jesus’ donkey that first Palm Sunday was probably like those Indian donkeys that Bob and Jean care for : hard worked, poorly treated, and unloved . . . a donkey like that carried Our Blessed Lord to His Passion, to bring us eternal life; do we, perhaps, owe it a little something ?