The hour of Jesus draws near. As Jesus draws near to Jerusalem, so does he draw near to his “hour”. During the time that Jesus was traveling in Galilee and other regions, teaching, healing and feeding people, he often remarked that it was not yet his hour. His hour had not yet arrived. Going up to Jerusalem, Jesus is aware that his hour is near and that once he enters into Jerusalem, his hour would arrive. A great confrontation lay ahead for Jesus, for his hour was not the only hour that would arrive, it would also be the hour for the Evil One. In the days ahead a great battle would be waged for the soul of humanity. Jesus had been sent into the world by the Father to fight this battle and his whole life as the “Son of Man” had been spent in preparing for this battle. Human persons had been caught up since the fall and from the beginning of time in an ancient struggle between good and evil, between the powers of light and the powers of darkness, between humility and pride, between truth and deception, between obedience and revolt, between freedom and autonomy. This battle that would soon take place in Jerusalem would not be fought on a battle field with vast armies of men, it would take place in a human and divine heart. This struggle was an interior battle to win the heart of humanity. Ultimately, this battle would all hinge on taking one hill, the hill of Calvary. The salvation of the entire human race could only be won on the Cross of Christ. Jesus knew that he could only win this battle by losing. In losing his life in a sacrificial oblation of love, Jesus would gain eternal life for all people. The decisive hour would take place on the Cross.
The hour of Jesus is the hour of glory. Through love and obedience, Jesus glorifies the Father and brings honor to his name. This glory is achieved simply by Jesus being precisely who he is meant to be and doing what he was sent to do. This is not an easy task because the human “self” wants to be preserved but it must be given away in love. Jesus is troubled by the challenge that is ahead for him. He prays to the Father, “‘Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name,’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’” (Jn 12,27-28)
What Jesus has accomplished by the sacrificial offering of his Body and Blood on the altar of the Cross, purifying the world of sin, we now may accomplish through faith. Faith cleanses and purifies the heart. Faith wins the battle for our heart. Faith unites our hearts to the heart of Jesus. Faith glorifies God and prepares us for an eternal weight of glory. What shines forth from the battle field of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a “love unto the end” that allows Jesus to accomplish his purpose. That divine love is available to us now as a grace so that we might believe in the love that the Father has revealed to us in his Son, Jesus, and in believing that we might have eternal life. Bringing that love to bear in faith allows us to be victorious in our interior struggle against sin and evil.
As Jesus “goes up” to Jerusalem and prepares himself for the final confrontation with sin, evil and death, his followers prepare a victory procession for him as he enters the Holy City. They sing out “hosanna” and wave palm branches to the hero who will conquer, the one who will soon be King. By entering Jerusalem in obedience to the plan of the Father, Jesus has already won the victory over his self. Jesus does not enter through the gates with a vast army, arrayed for battle, driving a chariot, glorifying himself. He enters on a donkey, clothed in humility, having come to glorify the Father. This battle will not be won by violence but rather by peace. Jesus evokes the image of the messianic king given by Zechariah: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble,and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” (Zech 9,9) Jesus comes to bring peace to God’s people by his own sacrifice. He is our peace.
Through faith, we may enter triumphantly into this Holy Week and unite ourselves to Jesus as he lives his Passion. We pray that our love will be a “love unto the end” and that it will not fail in the hour of our testing. May our union with Christ Jesus allow us to suffer humbly with Christ in his Passion so that we may be glorified with him in his Resurrection to New Life at Easter.