The Holiest Days of the year for Christians around the world starts with the Day of the Branches. It is named after the palms that were waved at the entrance to the Holy City to say “Hello” to Jesus. But those little palmies really point to the Bigger Branches and the BIGGER MEANINGS, especially the City’s FAREWELL to Him.
When i was a littler boy, i was more like a monkey, drawn to the trees, always out for a climb and a perch, my favorite being the backyard beauty of Rick and Bill Schneider. i could have lived there. i could have died there. Remember, Ricky? Remember, Billy? Wherever you are? Those were the days!
When i went into Central Park to meet the visiting Pope Francis – and found myself smothered by 100,000 other curious, wonderful humans – my immediate thought was to climb up one of those awesome sycamores and then out, out, out on a mighty limb, so to look down upon that precious man, just like Zacchaeus did to Jesus.
THAT’s the moment when Jesus’ troubles started. His response to that little monkey, when he invited himself into Zacchaeus’ home – and his broken, stormy, unhappy life – was ACTUALLY a GOING OUT ON A LIMB FOR HIM. It was the way he treated such hated men as Mr. Z that got Jesus into more and more trouble with the people, especially the head honchos. And how about what Jesus did for that woman, who was caught in the very act of adultery? Forget about the guy, he must’ve just slipped away. Nobody said anything about him. But the lady???!!! They all said, “Perfect!! Here’s a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. Let’s ask Jesus what he thinks we should do, let’s get him to insult our SACRED LAW.” So, they put it to him, only to have him turn the guns on them…”Go ahead, throw it! By all means, get her! But, let the sinless man cast the number one.” They went away…one by one…but fuming, humiliated, all planning on another day to get their revenge.
Yep! Out he went on another limb, way way way way out, scary time (i’ve been there in the trees), out to save her – by simply pointing to the MOST SACRED LAW, the ONLY ONE that really counts, MERCY! LOVE!
And for this there was a big, thick, ugly branch waiting for him – outside the Holy City, where thousands greeted him with love and cheers, only to turn on him with hate and louder cheers. Scariest of all scary branches,
he hugged it, perfectly innocent though he was, just as he hugged all the others.
And now that monstrosity is worn around the necks of billions with loving gratitude. Think of it! If he had come in 20th century USA, we’d all be wearing a gold or silver electric-chair charm on our necks or wrists. But as it was the Roman Way that he chose to deal with his CRAZY LOVE, it is the BRANCH we love, the BRANCH we CELEBRATE this Holy Week, this SUNDAY OF THE BRANCHES!