Fr Louis Reflection - Palm Sunday, Year B

Imagine the high excitement generated by the presence of Jesus entering Jerusalem the Holy City; the man Jesus, who had given life back to Lazarus four days after Lazarus had been entombed, as if any further proof was needed that Jesus was more than a prophet: some said he was the Messiah, the leader the Jews had been waiting for to save their nation. On the other hand, the chief priests and Pharisees were concerned that he could cause an insurrection which would mean that the Romans would come and destroy the Holy City and the nation. The chief priests and the Pharisees agreed that this man Jesus had to be killed. But the expectation of the crowds was at fever-pitch awaiting even more miraculous wonders. An excitable crowd, a possible new leader generating a carnival atmosphere. Where would it end? Well, we know that it wasn’t going to end in jubilation, and certainly not in the way the Population of Jerusalem were anticipating.

The People of Jerusalem were looking forward to a better future, just as today the world looks forward to a better future. Israel was a nation under Roman military occupation, and as any such occupation, created unease within society.

If such proof were needed as an illustration of how cruel and inhuman military occupations and authoritarian occupations can be, one only has to read how many people in Myanmar were killed yesterday by the military regime, and the end is not in sight. That is only a microcosm of the injustices being perpetrated on all continents by man’s determination to subdue and control his fellow man.

The culture of control and power over others has always been part of mans’ psyche, and regardless of the thousands of years between empires it will not be eradicated. However, there is another approach to control and power that also is part of mans’ psyche, and it has to do with self, …. self control for the benefit of the common good. Jesus came for the benefit of all humanity, the common good, and that includes the people who follow him: … namely Christians! Who from every nation and culture, race and language belong to a common culture which, to quote Pope Francis, ‘respects the role played by other religions and cultural institutions.’ Pope Francis goes on to say ‘[That] if the Church has a particular role to play at times of crisis, [and by crisis that includes pandemics, natural disasters, military intervention and anything else one can think of] it is precisely to remind the people of its soul, of its need to respect the common good. This is what Jesus did.’ Says Pope Francis’: he came to strengthen and deepen the bonds of belonging - of the people to God and to each other. That is why the one who matters most in the Kingdom of God is whoever makes himself least, serving others (Mt 20:26-27) and especially the poor.’ (Let us Dream -the Path to a better future. Pope Francis p. 105)

Pope Francis adds: ‘This is why a Christian will always defend individual rights and freedoms but can never be an individualist. A Christian will love and serve her country with patriotic feeling, but cannot be merely a nationalist. … The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, his love on the Cross, are what calls us to be missionary disciples, inviting us to recognise each other as brothers and sisters of the larger human family, and especially those who feel themselves orphans. [the forgotten, starving, homeless, untouchables, diseased, disposed, displaced from home and country, and son on] As the Beatitudes and Matthew chapter 25 show us, the principle of salvation is fulfilled in the compassion we demonstrate.

To be a Christian is to show mercy and compassion and demonstrate it. That is what Christ did, and what he asks of us in memory of Him.

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