Today, in the Liturgy of the Word we can read the Passion of the Lord according to St. Mark and we hear a testimony that leaves us aghast: «Truly, this man was the Son of God» (Jn 15:39). The evangelist is very careful to place these words in the mouth of a roman centurion that, utterly astounded, had seen another crucifixion of the many he might have had to bear witness of, by living in a foreign and subjugated country.
It is difficult to wonder what that centurion must have seen in That face —hardly human— so as to say such words so openly. One way or other, he probably discerned that innocent expression on his face, of someone forsaken and maybe betrayed because of unspeakable interests; or maybe someone who was the object of an injustice amid an unfair society; someone who keeps quiet, suffers, and mysteriously, takes all the corporal punishment inflicted on him. He might even feel he was cooperating with an injustice in front of which he does not dare to do anything to oppose it, as so many others who simply wash their hands before the problems of others.
The image of that roman captain is the image of Mankind that merely contemplates but does nothing. It is also the profession of faith of a pagan. Jesus dying alone, innocent, beaten, forsaken but trusting at the same time, with a profound realization of his mission, and with the “remainders of love” the blows have left in his body.
However, when he entered in Jerusalem, He has been acclaimed as He who comes in the name of the Lord! (cf. Mk 11:9). Our today's applause is not of an eager and ignorant expectation, as it was the case with the people of Jerusalem. Our applause is for Who has already gone through the nightmare of his total surrender and has come victorious out of it. «It is necessary that we spread out before Christ, rather than boosting soulless tunics, branches or sprouts of plants, common things that, after pleasing to the eye for a short while, they shrivel up and die; we must spread out after we have been covered by his grace» (St. Andrew of Crete).