Palm Sunday: The Stones Would Shout
There are two Gospel readings for Palm Sunday. The first concerns the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, while the second, very long, Gospel is a reading of the Passion story. I will repost my usual Passion story on Good Friday, along with commentary on why it supports a progressive perspective. For now, I will focus on the first Gospel alone.
The account starts out with Jesus being obvious by sending two disciples off to procure an ass for him to ride on. Whether he had prearranged for the beast, knew where one was from prior knowledge or had some supernatural inkling of how things were going to be is never made clear, however he certainly gave his disciples the impression that the last case was true - as he did the following Thursday (however it seems that this was likely pre-arranged or a familial dwelling since the disciples kept the room through Pentecost and beyond).
On hand for this event were a few of the Pharisees and scribes - although they may have been traveling with Jesus, since their presence was noted earlier at a meal in Bethany where Mary, the sister of Lazarus (who is sometimes identified as Mary Magdalene) washes Jesus' feet with her tears and anoints them with perfume, soon after Lazarus was raised. These Pharisees objected to the noise being kicked up by Jesus' disciples and rebuked Jesus, possibly to avoid having the Roman authorities notice, which likely put Jesus in jeopardy. Whatever their motivation, Jesus responded that if the disciples were to keep silent, the stones themselves would shout and herald the entry of the Messiah into Jerusalem. The stones could either allude to the planet or the walls of the city. Either interpretation is apt, since the purpose of the stones shouting would be to educate those in hearing of what was occurring before them.
The point I would like to underline is the reason we worship. It is not because it is necessary for the Lord - as the stones would still shout. It is because we need to worship God. God accepts our worship out of love for us, not because He has need of it. Unless we worship from this level of self-interested humility, we risk becoming proud in both our worship and our politics, which echos the sin of Lucifer, who thought his worship was so important that he could not worship the son of God Incarnate.
This is not to say that the Franciscan Monastery, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, St. Matthew's Cathedral, St. Sophia's and the National Shrine are not worthy places of worship. It is to say that these blessed stones are for our benefit, not God's.