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24 Marzo 2024 2024, Meditazioni

Msgr. Carlo Maria Viganò
Spiritual Conference on the Second Sunday of Passiontide or Palm Sunday

Exsulta satis, filia Sion, jubila filia Jerusalem.
Ecce Rex tuus venit tibi.

Za 9, 12

The solemn celebrations of Holy Week begin with the triumphal entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem, hailed as King of Israel. The Holy Church, the people of the New and Eternal Covenant, makes her own the tribute of public honors to her Lord: Hi placuere tibi, placeat devotio nostra: Rex bone, Rex clemens, cui bona cuncta placent. [May they please Thee, may our devotion please Thee, O good King, O gracious King, who likes all that is good]

However, as if to highlight how fickle and manipulable the multitude is, today we see the festive crowd with palm and olive branches, and a few days later we hear them cry out, “Crucify Him.” and send that same King to death on the scaffold reserved for slaves.

It is not known to us whether those who welcomed with jubilation the Lord at the gates of the Holy City were the same ones who gathered before the Praetorium and were incited by the High Priests and the scribes of the people. But it is not difficult to suppose – also on the basis of other similar episodes in the course of History – that many were present on both occasions, for the simple pleasure of attending an event, of following the crowd, of “taking a selfie,” as we would say today. On the other hand, was it not the same Hebrews in the wilderness who made for themselves a golden calf while Moses received the tablets of the Law on Sinai? And how many other times did those same Jews who had acclaimed the God of Israel end up “ecumenically” welcoming the priests of Baal and defiling themselves with idolaters, deserving the punishments announced by the Prophets and then repenting of their infidelity, only to begin again shortly after? This is the crowd, dear brethren; the crowd that witnesses the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the healing of lepers, the crippled, the centurion’s servant, and the resurrection of Lazarus, but then lines the path that leads to Golgotha to insult and spit on Our Lord, or even just to watch, ut videret finem (Mt 26:57): to see how it would turn out.

Who was absent from the Lord’s royal entry into Jerusalem? The civil and religious authorities, just as the powerful were absent from the Birth of the Savior in that remote hovel in Bethlehem on the night of December 25, two thousand and twenty-four years ago. There were no High Priests, no scribes, no Herod; who in reality were not even considered as true authorities, since both the High Priests Annas and Caiaphas as well as King Herod had come to power through fraud and manipulated appointments – nihil sub sole novi – and therefore did not represent legitimate power. In particular, Caiaphas was not of the house of Aaron – the priestly tribe of the Jews – but had been appointed as High Priest by Valerius Gratus in 25 A.D. and had managed to remain in office until 36 A.D., when he was deposed by the Governor of Syria, Lucius Vitellius. It was an imperial appointment, therefore, and not a hereditary right as established by God and as it was done uninterruptedly until the time of the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 10:20), when Jonathan assumed the High Priesthood.

Not even the king of Galilee was legitimate, for his appointment was decided by his father Herod the Great, who divided the kingdom between his sons Archelaus (who had Judea, Idumea, and southern Samaria), Herod Philip (who had the northeastern region of the Sea of Galilee) and Herod Antipas (who was appointed Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea). Herod Antipas ruled from 4 B.C. to 39 A.D. on behalf of the imperial authority and therefore could be considered more of a puppet in the service of Rome than a true ruler. He wasn’t supposed to be much different from a modern-day Trudeau or Macron, raised by the World Economic Forum and placed by the deep state to serve the interests of the elite in Canada or France. On the other hand, Herod had also been at the imperial court in Rome, where he had begun an affair with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, and whom he had then married – in contravention of the Mosaic law – deserving the condemnation of the Baptist, who was arrested and executed for this. The fact that Our Lord did not want to answer Herod – when Pontius Pilate had Him brought to Herod to judge Him since He was under Herod’s jurisdiction – confirms that Christ himself considered his authority illegitimate.

In Israel, therefore, at the time of Christ, there was no real religious or civil authority. Why this absence, this vacatio? And yet the Jews recognized the High Priests and Herod, just as today Bergoglio and the heads of government of the nations are recognized, despite the fact that they are clearly estranged from the true power willed by God. The answer we can give is that Providence willed that the coming secundum carnem of Our Lord should show that He was the true King and High Priest, not only as the author and guarantor of earthly authority, but also as the legitimate holder of that authority by divine right, by right of birth and – shortly thereafter – by right of conquest. This is the reason for the absence of Jewish kings, high priests, and scribes, both at the Birth of Christ and at His Epiphany and also at the Entry into Jerusalem.

Let us now try, dear brothers, to observe the scene before us. It is the 10th of the month of Nisan, six days before Passover, when the Law prescribes that the Jews procure the Passover lamb. Here, then, we see the Agnus Dei – according to the words of John the Baptist (Jn 1:29) – who five days later, at the ninth hour of Good Friday – that is, of the Eve of Passover – would expire on the Cross, at the same time that the Jews were skewering the lamb on two skewers to roast it, in memory of the flight from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea to the Promised Land. In the eyes of the faithful people, that symbolism could not escape them.

Seated on the harnessed donkey, like King Solomon at the moment of his coronation (1 Kings 1:38-40); honored as He passes by with palm branches and cloaks spread on the ground (2 Kings 9-13), Christ sums up in Himself all earthly, temporal and spiritual authority, showing Himself in the plenitudo potestatis and being praised by the people: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, exclaim the pueri Hebræorum. Hosanna filio David, that is, to the descendant of the once reigning house, to the promised Messiah, to the one prefigured by Zechariah (Zech 9:9):

Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion,
rejoice, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, thy king is coming unto thee.
He is righteous and victorious,
humble, he rides on a donkey,
a foal of an ass.

As can be seen from the Gospel narrative, the Lord’s coronation takes place on the Mount of Olives, less than three kilometers from the Holy City, and the royal procession moves towards the Temple, recalling Psalm 23:

O gates, lift up your gables;
and you, eternal gates, arise;
let the King of glory enter.
Who is this King of glory?
It is the Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
O gates, lift up your gables;
Arise, O eternal gates,
let the King of glory enter.
Who is this King of glory?
He is the Lord of hosts;
He is the King of glory.

The offering of a victim on the altar, presented when it is already evening (Mk 11:11) alludes to the imminent Passion of Our Lord. We can imagine the concern that this massive demonstration aroused among the authorities. And it is no coincidence: this civil and religious rite – characterized by the repetition of a precise ceremonial well known to priests and scribes – was in some way to represent the restoration of the Jewish kingdom in view of the Passion, so that it would be the King and High Priest of Israel who ascended the altar of Golgotha to offer Himself to the Majesty of the Father as a ransom for the sins of His people. We shall see the Lord again clothed in royal robes – the scarlet cloak and the crown, though of thorns – presenting Himself on the balcony of the Praetorium. Ecce rex vester (Jn 19:13), Pilate says to the Jews, who answer, confessing David’s vacancy on the throne: Non habemus regem, nisi Cæsarem (Jn 19:14). And again, in the Titulus Crucis, the same truth is reaffirmed: Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Judæorum (Jn 19:19). For if Christ had not been recognized as King and High Priest in the supreme act of the Sacrifice, He would not have represented before the Father either the individuals or the nations that were the object of the Redemption.

If we were to draw a parallel between those events and those of today, we might find a disturbing analogy between the action of the Sanhedrin and the Catholic Hierarchy usurping power in Rome. Imagine what might be, today, the concern of certain prelates – and of Bergoglio himself – for the threat of being discovered in their fraud by Christ himself, who comes to take back that authority that has been usurped and exercised not to open the Scriptures to the faithful, but to keep them in ignorance and allow himself to maintain power. Do you think that the reaction would be so different from that of the Sanhedrin, aroused by the concurrence of the people in Jerusalem to proclaim an unknown prophet of Galilee king? What do you think the new Caiaphas would say when he saw his prestige as High Priest threatened and the deception that brought him to power revealed? To be reminded that he is the vicar of an authority that is not his own, and of which he is not the master? Do you think he would agree to renounce the usurping Papacy, in order to allow the Lord to ascend to the Throne, in whose name he should govern the Church? Or would he not rather address the civil authorities, making it clear to the corrupt officials and politicians who recognize him as Pope, that this Galileo also threatens their power, which has also been usurped? Would he not invoke the intervention of the army to quell the revolt and condemn the Lord to death for sedition and high treason? On the contrary: does it not seem to you that the reason for the condemnation is precisely that he dared to proclaim himself King and Son of God – quia Filium Dei se fecit (Jn 19:7) – in a world that calls itself democratic and that recognizes no king other than Caesar – that is, the pagan power of an invader – nor any other god than man? And in this not-too-hypothetical framework, how would the mainstream media report the news, assuming that censorship or some law against hate speech does not prevent people from talking about it and pretend that nothing has happened?

According to some Fathers, the triumphal procession of Christ to Jerusalem is composed of two hosts: in the allegorical meaning of the Scriptures, those who precede the Lord are the Israelites, and those who follow Him are the converted pagans. And perhaps among the Jews there were also zealots, who hoped for a popular revolt against the Roman invader and who then abandoned the Lord when it was clear to them that He would not allow Himself to be used politically: it would be they, disappointed in their revolutionary expectations, who then cried out, “Crucify Him.”

So, we have three categories of people: those who hailed Christ, those who cried out, “Crucify Him,” and those who did both. The former are faithful; the latter are unfaithful and perfidious; the third are desolately mediocre. Let us ask ourselves, then: Who would I have been? Perhaps not among the mob stirred up by the Sanhedrin to extort Christ’s death sentence from Pilate: they are declared enemies of God and do not hesitate to invoke His Blood, in the vertigo of their blindness.

Rather, we should have been among those who praised the Lord and during the Passion were there with John, Mary, and the Pious Women at the foot of the Cross. But often, painfully, we must recognize that our infidelity – like that of the people who were the chosen ones – leads us to side with Christ when He triumphs, and to cry out against Him or to deny that we know Him – like Peter – when He is arrested, tried, bloodied, crowned with thorns, dressed like a madman and covered with reproaches. Committed Catholics under Pius XII, but then lukewarm modernists with the Council; heroic defenders of the Faith in times of peace in a Catholic nation, but mute executors of the worldly mentality in times of persecution in anti-Catholic nations; devout faithful of the Old Mass when Benedict XVI allowed it, but now scrupulous executors of Traditionis Custodes when the Jesuit of Santa Marta limits its celebration or prohibits it.

But why, I ask myself, this intolerance for the transcendent? Why this revulsion for the sacred, and therefore also for the sacredness of the authority of Christ, King and High Priest, that breaks into our humanity? What disturbed so much the power of the High Priests in Our Lord’s time? What has disturbed the power of civil institutions so much for over two hundred years, and that of the modernist Sanhedrin for sixty years? I believe that the answer lies in the pride of us poor, miserable mortals, who do not want to accept and submit to the power of Christ because we know that if we did there would be no more room for our particulars, for our petty interests, for our lust for power. Ultimately, it is Lucifer’s Non serviam that is perpetuated in History, in the tragic attempt to subvert the divine order and in the even more tragic illusion of being able to be self-sufficient, of considering the world as a goal and not as a place of passage, of being able to create for ourselves a Paradise on earth in which freedom, fraternity, and equality may be the human counterpart of Faith, Hope and Charity.

We are afraid that Christ will reign, because we know that where authority belongs to Christ and is in accordance with His Law, we are no longer in charge, and the power we administer as Christ’s lieutenants cannot be used as a pretext behind which to hide our foolish presumption of being sicut dii. And this is true in the civil as well as in the ecclesiastical sphere. Yet being vicars of Christ in temporal or spiritual matters should be an honor, not a humiliation. For this reason, dear brethren, it is terrible that he who sits on the Throne of Peter considers it “inconvenient” to bear the title of Servant of the Servants of God and has erased that of Vicar of Christ. In shaking off the necessary subjection to Christ, he also assumes full and total responsibility for his own errors, his own heresies, the scandals of which he is the cause; and at the same time, proudly, he rejects those Graces of state which the Lord would otherwise have granted to His Vicar on earth. This presumption cuts at the root the legitimacy of authority itself, which either comes from God or is hateful and illegitimate tyranny.

Dear brothers and sisters, these times of apostasy are no different from the times of the Passion, because the passio Christi of that time must necessarily be fulfilled in the passio Ecclesiæ of today and of the end times: what the Head has faced, the Mystical Body must also face. But be careful: another will try to present himself as king and pope, and he will be the Antichrist, the infernal counterfeit and diabolical subversion of the Prince of Peace. Even in those days of darkness – which prophet Daniel tells us will last three and a half years – there will be a crowd that will sing the praises of that man, worshipping him as God, and others who will recognize him as an impostor and servant of Satan. The deceptions and wonders of the son of perdition will lead us to believe that he has conquered power, that the Church is definitively obliterated, in the vacancy of civil and religious authority. It will be then that St. Michael will kill the Antichrist, then that the Virgin will crush the head of the Serpent, then that the Lord will come in glory to judge the living and the dead, returning again as the Son of God, King and High Priest.

Let us make sure that we are found among the number of that pusillus grex, that little flock, which has not been deceived and which has remained faithful. Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion; rejoice, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy king is coming unto thee (Zech 9:9). And so may it be.

+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop

March 24, 2024
Dominica II Passionis seu in Palmis