April 14, 2019: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Reading: Luke 22:14-23:56
Please read the Gospel here.
The readings of this Sunday are mysterious to the disciples and perhaps even to Jesus himself. Jesus behaves and speaks as though he is following a script not yet available to his followers. The message is clearly about establishing the Kingdom of God.
We have a bit of everything Jesus wants the disciples to know in this lengthy Gospel reading. They don’t understand most of it, even arguing about who gets to sit next to Jesus at the traditional Jewish Passover meal and who is the greatest among them, even as Jesus tells them it will be his final meal with them. Jesus also takes the opportunity to clarify the meaning of leadership in the Kingdom of God from the forms of leadership seen in most religious and political groups around the world — then and now. If we look closer at what exists in our own lives, it is not hard to see what Jesus meant. Even the holiest and most professional of groups struggles with competition: Who is favored? Who will take the lead? Who is the greatest? We call it dysfunctional leadership and it is pervasive and destructive. Not what Jesus has taught about the Kingdom of God.
As Jesus leads his disciples to the Mount of Olives, he seems aware of the challenges he, and they, will face in the coming days. He shows by his example that prayer and reflection, in the image of an angel, will guide them, giving them strength and courage for the coming days.
Luke brings our attention to many facets of Jesus’ journey to crucifixion not mentioned in other Gospels. He gives special attention to the women who have been faithful followers of Jesus all along this journey. Only Luke reports the words of Jesus to the thief or the words of forgiveness spoken from the cross. In this Gospel there are no words of abandonment spoken by Jesus from the cross. Jesus commends his spirit to his Father and takes his final breath.
The readings of Holy Week make clear that Jesus is not describing a Kingdom of armies and money, jealousy and power. This is a kingdom of all that Jesus has taught through his actions and his words of love and forgiveness, kindness and compassion, of rebellion and resistance to all that is not of the Kingdom of God. It is about the heart of each of us — not about rules or laws or judgments or condemnation. It is about love and forgiveness and the power of healing. It is about changing how we define our neighbor and all Creation, connecting us to each other and to the Divine.
We say yes.
Yes to love, and the burdens it will foster.
Yes to tomorrow, replete with unknowns.
Yes to vocation, though our calling discourages at times.
Yes to forgiveness, even while the wound still hurts.
Yes to joy, though we carry personal sorrow.
Yes to hope, despite the headlines of the day.
Yes to God who asks us to show more courage than we can possibly imagine.
The land of yes is the realm of prophets and poets; of mystics, dreamers, and lovers.
It requires resolve in a world of dithering, shape- shifting, pass the buck role models.
To live yes, we have to be truthful, we have to be free, and we have to be generous.
We have been rehearsing our citizenship in a country that demands
old, clear, joyous action.
Call this land the Kingdom of God
And say Yes!
(From The Path to Peace, Alice Camille.Lent 2018)