Agape: April 5, 2020 (Palm Sunday)

Agape: The 2020 Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-3

This seems like a strange passage to be reading today, but we are looking at 1 Corinthians 13 this week, and we have to start somewhere.

Looking at today’s Gospel passage regarding the entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, for those who are interested), the thing that is striking to me about today is how completely opposite Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem was from the triumphal entry of Caesar or any major general who is flaunting their power or coming in to conquer the occupying forces. They came in atop war horses with trumpeters and standard bearers. In contrast, Jesus comes in riding atop a donkey. Those crowds who entered ahead of him proclaimed his entrance like they would someone entering atop a warhorse, but what they were shouting aloud was completely different. “Hosanna” comes from a Hebrew word that means “rescue” or “save”, so they were effectively calling on Jesus to rescue them from something.

The generals atop their warhorses are the antithesis of those with agape in their hearts. Their conquests were all about glory or power for themselves or for their country. Their words are all about their own glory—quite like a “noisy gong” or “clanging cymbal” to the ears of those they were conquering. Jesus spoke words of agape, words that show care or concern for those he came to save. It is a remarkable difference.

Thank you, Lord, for speaking words that show love and concern for those you came to save—who happen to be us still today. Amen.
-Jen McCabe