Isn’t it a good feeling when someone pays you a sincere and honest compliment? Just to know that what you have done or said or the way you look has captured someone’s attention and helped them or lifted their spirits in some way. I think it has got to do with the need within all of us for affirmation. Perhaps the old Irish adage “Mol and oige agus tiocfaidh siad” is saying the same thing. And to have the praise and appreciation of crowds of people, be it on the stage or the football field, is surely a great to boost to self esteem. Maybe that’s why there are so many entrants for TV shows like X Factor or The Voice of Ireland. Everybody wants to make it to stardom and fame so that that feeling of being important is almost “on tap”.
I wonder did Jesus feel just a bit of that high on his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? When crowds gathered to hail him as King! When it seemed that the people had finally recognised him as The Massiah, the Son of David! Even if it was only riding on a donkey and not stepping onto the red carpet from a chauffeur driven limo. But of course we know the rest of the story and how the praise was shallow and short lived. Later in that same week the people would be shouting insults and comdemnation and calling for his death.
Jesus never needed any human approval for him to be truly himself or to give him the encouragement to carry out his mission. The depth of his true identity was well and truly rooted in his relationship with God, his Father.
For us too we need to take care that we don’t allow shallow public opinion or appraisal to be the driving force behind who we are, shaping our identity and how we act or what we say. Living our Christian faith and being a witness to Christ will more often draw negative resistance in a world sold out to “fame and fortune”. If we are to be truly authentic then there is no better route to take than that of Jesus, our Shepherd who lived his life on earth immersed in an obedient relationship with God, his loving Father and our Father. Christ promises us a share in his glory but that may not include the false glory this world promises. Rather to endure rejection and ridecule of the cross in order to win the crown of the resurrection.
May the Lord give us the courage and faith to journey with him through this Holy Week. All the way from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, not avoiding any of what happens in between!