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I’m in this too!

Our preparation during the period of Lent draws to a conclusion on the second Sunday of the Passion, which we commonly refer to as Palm Sunday, because we are asked to hold the palms, reminiscent of Jesus’ grand welcome from the people, during the procession into the church and while the passion of Jesus is being read.

The story is full of contrasting positions over the person of Jesus, all of which challenge us to examine our own position in faith.

The triumphant entry into Jerusalem heralds Jesus’ position as king and leader. But what kind of model of leadership does he present to us? Certainly, it is not one that enjoys celebrity and power over his subjects—but one who portrays servant leadership and love for others, even to the point of death.

The Jewish leadership wanted him silenced, because they were afraid of Jesus and his teaching, for it was revolutionary and they stood to lose a lot of power and prestige.

Herod wanted Jesus to perform miracles for his own entertainment and had him punished when he didn’t cooperate.

The Roman colonial governor, Pontius Pilate, wanted peace at any cost—even the death of an obviously innocent man—and ultimately gave way to the pressure of the crowd’s demands.

The soldiers on Calvary, and even one of the condemned  crucified with him, threw scorn and ridicule upon Jesus, because of the pressure of the crowd.

The force of the popular voice and social majority is as powerful today as it was in Jerusalem in the first Holy Week.

Where do we stand with the weeping women of Jerusalem; perhaps with Simone of Cyrene the involuntary bystander that was dragged into the scene, no doubt in confusion and concern for the personal implications it may have?

Or maybe we see ourselves as the good thief who was also crucified with Jesus, in his recognition of the injustice of the situation, but powerless to assist Jesus in any way.

Where we stand in these scenes is always evident when we stand mutely in the face of injustice to the poor, refugees or exploited people. 

It seems easier to stay in the shadows, turning a blind eye or, perhaps, even worse.

Jesus’ leadership involves an active response to those on the margins of society who are often condemned for their difference or lack of conformity. 

Has our Lenten preparation strengthened our commitment to this discipleship and equipped us with a greater faith and love that moves us to courage?

W. H. Murray says, in his account of The Scottish Himalayan Expedition, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always is  ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance that kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.”

Holding the palm in our hand as we listen and walk is a direct challenge to us to reflect on what type of response we make in these situations.

It is not just a matter of listening to stories being told about Jesus, but about telling ourselves our own stories.

 l Diocese of Sandhurst Bulletin