Turning Jerusalem On Its Head

Jerusalem, first captured by David from the Jebusites, gained significant prominence when Solomon built a magnificent temple in honor of Yahweh. This beautiful temple became the envy of those who lived in the ancient Near East, and attracted pilgrims who came to worship or simply to admire its magnificence.  But the place of tranquility and the nurturing place of faith has also been a place of violence.

On Palm Sunday, we will celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Biblical narratives talk of people cutting branches from trees and laying their cloth on the path of a donkey upon which sat the Son of David. The political establishment could not care much, because this act wasn’t threatening. However, the religious establishment could not let this sacrilege go by without any repercussion. In their response, they set in motion a series of events which would eventually lead to turning Jerusalem on its head.

(Continue Reading…) The story of the Passion Week reflects the human desire to be in control, to speak for God and to even kill ‘God’ in order to protect God. How wrong can we be? No one can control God, speak for God, or protect God. That is why God will rise up, even after the brutal crucifixion!

The One who comes to us as King, also comes to us as a Servant. The tasks of the King and Servant are not incompatible, and their goal is for us to look at Jerusalem in a new way. This way is summed up in these thoughts by an abbot of a Coptic Monastery of Saint Macarius in the Egyptian desert. He said this about Jerusalem: “Jerusalem, the Holy, is right here, in and around these caves; for what else is my cave, but the place where my savior Christ was born; what else is my cave, but the place where he most gloriously rose again from the dead? Jerusalem is here, right here, and all the spiritual riches of the holy city are found in this wadi.”

If the abbot found Jerusalem within his midst, even in the caves, then we too find Jerusalem right here in Chestnut Hill, right here in Philadelphia. It only takes the desire to create a space for the Holy. As we begin our passion journey, my prayer is for us to open our hearts and eyes to create and welcome the Holy in our midst, lift up the Holy around us and to make Holy that which isn’t Holy.

– Manny