PALM Sunday marks the beginning of Jesus' journey towards his Crucifixion, his death on the Cross. This day is the glorious entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.

An enthusiastic crowd of people goes out of its way to welcome Jesus as the Son of David, their King and Savior. That crowd in Jerusalem is the symbol of the Church, not only of the Catholic Church but of all the Christian and non-Christian Churches as well, Christians and so-called anonymous Christians. These are the People of God of the future generations, all peoples of the world.

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We all know the details of that story of Jesus' journey to his death. After that first Palm Sunday the horror story unfolds: something of a kangeroo court before the religious authorities, at which Jesus is found guilty of blasphemy, for claiming what we have known to be true since the Gospel began, that he is "the Messiah, Son of the Blessed One".

Then comes some ritual humiliation, and a hearing before Pilate, who investigates this "King of the Jews", and finds him not guilty; after that, however, he bows to popular demand and has Jesus flogged, jeered at as a "King", and let out to execution at Calvary. There he dies, mocked by an unholy alliance of "passers-by", high priests and scribes, and even his fellow convicts. Jesus is apparently abandoned by absolutely everybody, even God, as we hear him say in desperation: "Elohi, Elohi, lama sabachthani?". My God, my God, why have your forsaken me? And then Jesus dies. That is the end of the journey.

Among that enthusiastic crowd in Jerusalem are some other known personalities. There is Judas Iscariot, "one of the Twelve!" who has offered the religious authorities to help them. During the Passover meal that followed the beginning of the journey Jesus predicted that one of his fellow diners is going to betray him. Then, as they go to the Mount of Olives, Jesus warns his disciples, "you will all be made to stumble".

Then we hear Peter, who is to become the first pope, boasting that he is ready to "die along with you." When the arresting party comes, Peter joins everybody in running away. Even then, however, there is hope, as Peter "followed from a long way off" (so he is still disciple), but immediately he ruins it all by denying three times, and with all his energy, that he has ever heard of Jesus. And to whom does he make this earnest protestation? To a "little slave girl", as the Evangelist points out.

In my previous column I have said "a non-partisan church is a silent church". The church is called to be a prophetic witness of the One Crucified. The church we belong to is a church of sinners. All of us are sinners, from the Pope, to the Bishops and Priests down to the Lay. All of us play a role, positive or negative, in that horror story, that journey of Jesus from Jerusalem to Calvary.

Finally, it turns out that after all Jesus has his supporters, even there on Calvary. There are some men, but mostly women, who assist at his death. Where do we belong? It is a serious question we have to reflect on this time of Lent. Our Lenten journey is not yet over.(for your comments email: arnvv@yahoo.com or call: 0926-3123366)