CHAPTER XXXI. JESUS ENTERS JERUSALEM
|The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem 1500, Jan van Haldern (1480 - 1511).|
At last Cleophas inquired the cause of this extraordinary assemblage. He learned that they were awaiting Jesus. Followed by Mary Magdalen, the other Mary, and Salome, the Mother mingled in the crowd, anticipating, like any of the women about her, the coming of her Son.
Soon she saw the disciples in the distance. Among them she distinguished Simon, whom she had known at Cana. He marched, proud of his Master, and proud of his own strength, his virtue, his unconquerable courage. Bartholomew followed. Mary had known him also in Galilee. Then came James and Jude, and John, the beloved one. The other Mary could have cried aloud with joy on again beholding her sons, but she blessed them in her heart, and allowed them to pass in silence. Other disciples preceded the Saviour, and their faces were sad. The great crowd of people, the acclamations, did not reassure them. They knew too well that such transports but aroused the anger of the great. Already the murmtirings in high places seemed to threaten Him.
"This man preaches for the people," they said. "Why? Because He comes from the people! Because He wishes to make partisans that He may foment rebellion! He will bear watching !"
Aware of this sentiment against Him and filled with uneasiness, they walked before their Master.
At last the Virgin saw her Son.
He rode upon a colt, on which no man before Him ever had been seated. She looked at Him, feasting her eyes upon His face. Most beautiful of men! Power, force, mildness, bounty, intelligence, compassion, love, mercy, gentleness—every virtue, every gift, every faculty in its most perfect state, was mirrored there. And on this day, this one day of triumph, they shone with superhuman splendor.
And the people saluted their Saviour as if He were indeed their earthly King. They cast flowers in His path. They spread costly garments oh the ground that the feet of the animal He rode might not touch the earth. They carried palm branches in their hands, waving them joyously.
"Hosanna!" they cried. "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (St. Matthew xxi, 9.)
"Hosanna in the heavens!
"Glory in the highest heavens 1"
And the entire people cried out with one voice, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!"
The voices of adoring angels mingled in these acclamations, and every lip repeated the wonders that had been wrought by Jesus.
One told of the resurrection of Lazarus, and how those few words from the Saviour had drawn him forth from the tomb—that man whose body had already been the prey of worms and rottenness. They pointed him out, following in the Saviour's train.
Another spoke of the cure of one who had been long a paralytic and showed him among the friends of Jesus. He was full of life and strength, although he had made a long journey.
A woman recalled tenderly His kindness to her little ones.
"Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not," He had said, "for of such is the kingdom of God." (St. Mark x, 14.) "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hath come perfect praise."
And the mother kissed the fair heads of her boys, upon which the Lord had for a moment placed His hands. The Virgin looked at them with interest, thinking within her heart that at some future period these children would bear witness to the high favor they had received.
Others spoke of the marvelous doctrines which Jesus gave to a listening multitude.
"His sanctity raises us from the abjection into which we have fallen. His laws are in favor of the weak, and the oppressed. He thinks of us poor ones, who are enduring the burden and the hardships of life. Who thought or cared before Him? He consoles our miseries, saying that God has counted them, and will give us recompense if we bear them without murmuring. He is poor, so that we may know how to suffer poverty. Of Himself He spoke when He said those words: 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.'" (St, Luke ix, 58.)
"He possesses nothing who can give everything. He tells the rich that their wealth is theirs in trust, only that they may assist us. If it ever happens that they listen to Him, we will have to know but the indispensable evils of life. He is truly the God who made us, before whom all are equal!"
And a woman added:
"He wishes woman to be no longer treated as the slave of man, but as his companion. He wishes the son to love and venerate his mother. He loves and venerates His own Mother. Let Him be blessed! Hosanna to Him on earth and in heaven!"
The Virgin heard these words—they were spoken close beside her. Her heart leaped with joy—the joy of a mother, a joy which included her Son, and all who loved her Son, in an immense and maternal affection.
"May God bless His people!" she exclaimed, and as the words left her lips a gust of wind raised her veil. Several, whose attention was attracted by her remark, beheld her beautiful countenance. Instantly her resemblance to the Saviour was commented upon.
"This is His Mother! Surely this is His Mother!" they exclaimed.
Mary hurriedly' drew her veil about her, and sought refuge behind Magdalen; so dense was the crowd that they had no difficulty in losing themselves in it. Following, or preceding the Virgin, Magdalen, herself concealed, saw many of those whom she had known in Jerusalem. Once her shoulder almost touched that of Joseph of Arimathea, and she noted his sad and thoughtful countenance. To her surprise Servilius was with him.
"Do you not see that this triumph will lead to His ruin?" asked Joseph, sorrowfully, of the young Roman.
"The fault will be His own!" was the answer.
"Why does He display His triumph under the eyes of the governor and those in high places who fear the influence He exercises over the people? Why did He not remain in Galilee instead of coming here to compromise His partisans ?"
"I believed you to be one of His trusted disciples," said Joseph of Arimathea, wonderingly*
Carried forward by the crowd Magdalen did not hear the reply. But Servilius' countenance told its own tale. He had always wavered between courage and interest, and he had not the strength to sacrifice one for the other.
"Weak, weak Servilius!'' she murmured. "Never has thy soul known true elevation or generosity."
But the crowd had entered the city. The acclamations were redoubled. The sight of Lazarus, of whose resurrection all were talking, sent the dense throng into greater enthusiasm. Flowers and palm branches were cast upon the ground, making the Lord's way the path of a conqueror. But never had any conqueror excited such transports.
The shouts and cries of joy penetrated to the palace of Caiphas and made him tremble with rage. He had never forgotten or forgiven that earlier Pasch in which Jesus had whipped the buyers and sellers out of the Temple. "Take these things hence," He had said, "and make not of My Father's house a house of traffic!" (St. John ii, 15,16.)