The beginning of the end or the beginning of the beginning?
Jesus and his friends arrive at Jerusalem (the gospel reading at the blessing of the palms with which mass today begins). Jesus has spoken of the danger he faces in coming here again. His friends, despite what he has said about the troubles that lie ahead, still think he will somehow win and they will see a new order rise up. The Romans will be sent packing back across the Mediterranean and they themselves will enjoy positions of power and privilege. Jesus is King David establishing a new kingdom and they will be there by his side. In their enthusiasm for the fulfilment of this vision (very worldly) they lay palms down in front of him like the welcoming red carpet reserved for celebrities and grand occasions. They sing and dance as they accompany their winner riding on a donkey like David did.
Sadly their plans go pear-shaped. They underestimated the way the high priests and leaders of the people convince the people of Jerusalem that Jesus, this wandering preacher from the north, from Galilee, is a threat to all they hold dear and sacred. You can hear the leaders saying: “remember what this man did in the temple when you went to offer sacrifice. He destroyed everything and made it impossible for you to be in touch with God to whom we are bound by covenant.” They got to the Romans as well and convinced them that to go soft on Jesus was to betray the emperor. This Jesus is a threat to law and order, worse than the murderous Barabbas.
Jesus is arrested, tortured, found guilty and executed. That is the end. Or is it? With the resurrection and spirit inspired move by the followers into the public eye to proclaim Jesus, all they things they hoped for came true but in a very different way from what they were thinking as they came into Jerusalem that last time. The Romans were overcome and their city became the residence of the leader of the disciples world-wide. They themselves did get seats of power and privilege but through the power of service and privilege born of God’s grace not their own jockeying for positions where they could big-note themselves.
This drama is played out every day with us as the friends walking with the winner. Gently convincing, compassionately listening, wisely directing we live the Good News and see people change and become like the one we say is the Word of God in the flesh.
Fr Adrian Farrelly
|Apr 17, 2013||Passion Sunday/Palm Sunday||Listen||Download|