As we do every year, we began today by taking our place in the triumphal entry, singing our hosannas, and carrying our palms.
The triumphal entry, palms, and hosannas have in many ways come to characterize this day and the beginning of Holy Week. That’s not, however, what I want to focus on today.
Today I want to talk with you about a different entry into Holy Week.
I want to talk about tears and weeping as our entry into Holy Week.
That seems weird, right?
You may be asking, why not the palms and the hosannas? Why focus on tears and weeping?
Well, let me ask you this… What does Luke have to say about all that in our reading today?
What does Luke say about the palms? Nothing.
Sure, people spread their cloaks on the ground. But no palms. Luke’s gospel account is the only one that does not mention palms or branches.
What does Luke say about the hosannas? Nothing.
Sure, people praise God with a loud voice but there is no mention of hosannas. Luke’s gospel account is the only one that does not mention the hosannas.
What does Luke say about tears and weeping? Nothing…if you read only today’s assigned portion of the gospel.
The very next verse after today’s assigned portion says, “As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it” (Luke 19: 41).
Luke’s account of the gospel is the only one in which Jesus sees the city and weeps.
Luke does not describe the usual triumphal entry that we are used to, and I think that’s worth paying attention to. If tears and weeping are Jesus’ entry into Holy Week maybe tears and weeping should be our entry into Holy Week.
I’m not saying we’re wrong to sing our hosannas and carry the palms, but in the context of Luke’s gospel, tears and weeping just seem to be a more authentic, meaningful, and vulnerable entry into Holy Week.
And vulnerability is always at the heart of Holy Week.
A tearful entry into Holy Week means we must first see and name the reality of our lives and world. We cannot turn away from the experiences and sources of our tears.
Sometimes our tears are sorrow, grief, and death. Sometimes it’s guilt, regret, or disappointment.
Other times our tears are caused by the pain of the world and the suffering of another human being. Sometimes it’s the loss of what could’ve been, dreams that didn’t come true, wishes unfulfilled, or promises unkept. Sometimes it’s just the everyday burdens and the weight of life.
Sometimes our tears seem small or insignificant. Maybe like this bowl, which is chipped. Sure, it’s still a bowl. But that chip is always there. Sometimes we feel chipped. Sometimes we feel like this, and the only response is tears.
Sometimes our tears seem to be so overwhelming. Like this bowl, which seems useless now. Sometimes we feel broken. Sometimes we feel like this, and the only response is tears.
Whatever it is and however it happens we’ve all had tears. We’ve all been chipped. We’ve all been broken.
Whatever your tears and weeping may be about, let them become your entry into Holy Week. To hold back our tears or hide or chips and breaks is to deny ourselves the full power of Holy Week.
Without tears and chips and brokenness, what would we need a new commandment to love one another?
Without tears and chips and brokenness, why would our feet be dirty and need to be washed in the first place?
Without tears and chips and brokenness, why would death and humiliation be necessary for a day to be called good?
Without tears and chips and brokenness, how would we ever know the overwhelming joy of Easter morning?
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
So let’s enter this Holy Week with our tears, and our chips, and our brokenness.
I invite you to join us for the triduum, the great three days, as we walk from the upper room to the garden to the cross.
You’ll be seeing these bowls again this week. Their brokenness, as a symbol of our brokenness, will be a guide for our Holy Week.
I can’t wait to see what God can do with them. And I can’t wait to see what God can do with us.
I bet it will be so, so beautiful.