Let us hasten to Jerusalem!
The Station on the eve of Palm Sunday is of a comparatively late origin: formerly the pope spent a part of the day distributing alms to the poor, and rested in preparation for the tiring ceremonies of Holy Week to come! Near the place where the Via Appia divides into two, forming on the left the Via Latina, stands a church on the spot where St John, by the order of Domitian, was plunged into a vat of boiling oil, according to the traditional accounts of Tertullian and St Jerome. Miraculously St John emerged unharmed and returned to Patmos! It is at this church built on this site of the saint's witness that today's Station is held. The church was built in the 5th century and since 1938 it has been in the care of the Rosminian Fathers.
"Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, 'What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?'" (Jn 11:55-56).
These words from today's Gospel lend an air of urgency and expectation to the Liturgy as we stand on the eve of Holy Week. But there is also a sense of imminent peril in the Gospel; as a hymn for Palm Sunday puts it: The Lord proceeds "in lowly pomp ride on to die." He approaches Jerusalem and Holy Week in order to fulfil His mission from the Father which, as today's Old Testament readings indicate, is to "ransom Jacob" (Jer 31:11) and to "gather the children of Israel from among the nations" (Ez 37:21). This He will accomplish on the Cross from whence the Church is born, sprung from His pierced side. Generated by the Blood and Water which flowed from Christ's side, the Church is His Body, His instrument of salvation in which He, the Head, continues His mission for all time, of gathering His People from every nation and every corner of the world.
As such, like the people mentioned in John's Gospel, we too throng to Jerusalem for this coming 'week of salvation'. In the eternal 'now' of the holy Liturgy, we gather for the Passover of the Lord and make anamnesis of Him, the true Passover Lamb who is slain for our sins, sacrificed on the altar of the Cross for our redemption. And by our participation in this saving Mysteries and His grace, we appropriate for ourselves the fruits of salvation in Christ.
Therefore, let us hasten to Jerusalem to share in the Lord's Passion, let us run with eagerness to journey with Him down the Via Dolorosa. Let us follow Mary, our Mother and comfort her in grief, and huddle with the frightened disciples. Let us gaze aghast at the price Christ paid to ransom us and the blood He shed for our sins. Let us enter into the Way of Love.
Through the wonders of the internet, one can also make a 'virtual' journey to the holy sites of Jerusalem, to aid us in our meditation. You may wish to click on these sites:
Bible Places, Jerusalem Shots, The Holy Sepulchre and The Via Dolorosa.