Somewhere along the way, I think we have become numb to violence.
This is very ironic understanding this whole week we are in that leads to the suffering execution of the One we proclaim to be the Lord and Savior of the World.
As Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg describe in The Last Week, there were two processions on that day we know as Palm Sunday. From the West came the Roman Governor, coming to Jerusalem for the Passover festival to ensure that things remained calm. After all, this was an occupied people celebrating and remembering how God delivered them from bondage and slavery by their Egyptian oppressors. It seemed like a good time to consider how much things had changed and how far they still had to go.
In this imperial procession were soldiers, horses, chariots, weapons, armor, fanfare and glamour. It was a demonstration of power and a reminder to everyone of how much “peace” had been made through the arm of Rome. Everyone could see in that parade just how much prosperity the Empire had brought about, and no one could forget how it was accomplished. As Borg and Crossan state plainly, this state of “peace” was forged through military victory. (Think 1984 long before 1984.) The soldiers were there as heroes (those who had helped make the Empire what it was today) and as reinforcement (those who would see that it stayed that way). They wouldn’t tolerate an uprising by a bunch of folks seeking liberation and a New Way.
On the other side of town, Jesus enters Jerusalem from the East in this magnificent theatrical procession where he rides upon a colt. There are no soldiers, only friends. There are no weapons, only palms. There is no glamour or power (did I mention the colt?).
But what is there and what isn’t there speaks volumes.
The Gospel of Mark sets the stage for this final week and it begins with a counter-procession that has all of the followers that a solidarity march might attract in downtown Cleveland. And yet, while the people are few and the threat seems to be myopic, the power within this humble procession from the East would endure and outlast the power of the Roman Empire.
It would do so because those who followed Jesus understood that the Way that Christ sets before us and asks us to follow is different from the Way that the empire set up for everyone. It isn’t a way that will use power and the threat of power to accomplish its desires; it isn’t a way that confuses “peace” with “stability”; it isn’t a way that views people as disposable.
In fact, it’s just about the opposite.
But how often do we remember this? How often do we succumb to the ideas that
Hope resists; Hopelessness Adapts. WSC