And when He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking “Who is this?” -Matthew 21:10

turmoil:  a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty. 

-Oxford Dictionary

Perhaps you are familiar with the Bible Gateway website, where you are able, at-a-glance, to compare many translations of the scriptures.  Among the interpretations of Matthew 21:10, the word turmoil is interchangeable with the following:

Stirred, stirred up, moved, agitated, trembling, excited, 

trembling with excitement, in an uproar, confused, shaken.

There seems to be a difference in interpretation as to what took place that first Palm Sunday.  Was it a day of agitation, or a day of excitement?  Both and?  We certainly in our present-day language attach meanings, nuances and shadings to these words.

The one uniting factor in all the translations, is the phrase the whole city”.  I think it is safe to say that as this event unfolded, it was very big.  On a mass scale, historic for Jerusalem.  Palm branches waving and covering the streets!  A movement.  Or was this a metaphor for each individual’s heart-change that Jesus was preaching about? 

Turmoil is certainly a word we understand well in our recent times.  And it is easy to fall into a state of despair over many events that have occurred and are unfolding now.  Is there a new way to view Palm Sunday considering all this?  I think so, by one word.

It might be better to center in on the word “moved” in some of the translations.  In our times we have seen how racism has once again been brought to light – moving people toward justice.  We have seen a global pandemic, moving people to help the sick.  The bitter winter has moved many to volunteer at warming centers for those who have no home.  And now millions displaced by war are relying on people moved by compassion.

In a sense we are living a Palm Sunday every day.  We are in turmoil.  We are agitated.  We are trembling.  We are confused.  But like the whole city, we are moved.  Palm Sunday is a chance for us to respond to Christ entering our hearts in countless ways.  And if we listen to our hearts, I think we already know, as St. Francis taught, “what is ours to do.”  This Palm Sunday, be moved. 

A Palm Sunday Prayer:   O Jesus, I hail your entrance into my heart! Move me to help those who need me today with your generosity. Amen.

– Bruce LaCrosse