Sunday, April 01, 2007

Holy Week begins; a simple lesson so hard to accept

For Christians of most every stripe among the western churches today is Palm Sunday. Palms are present along with the first reading of the Passion of Christ during this ‘Holy Week’.

The Passion for so many centuries has been used incorrectly to justify anti-Semitism. The Jews didn’t kill Christ. Power, feeling threatened killed Jesus. The Religious authority threatened by His popularity and expressed ideas feared He would bring unfavorably dangerous attention to them and their community from occupation powers. But most of all they feared and loathed the challenge to their authority. The politically unpopular occupation appointed governor feared any threat to his power or negative attention from occupation rulers. The occupation administrator of the land feared for local instability and any career-ending negative attention upon himself. When the people were granted the traditional holiday choice of freeing a prisoner they choose the violent insurrectionist, their freedom fighter, over the man of love and peace.

Those were the choices that resulted in the death penalty for Jesus. We’re wrestling with these same choices to this very day in our land and around the globe.

The corrupt self-centeredness of power is not surprising but why do people so often willingly chose violent ways over that of peace. The people who yelled for the insurrectionist undoubtedly felt they were in fact loyal followers of their faith who, living under an unjust occupation and feeling threatened, were making the proper patriotic choice of God and country.

Who would you scream for?

Outside of legitimate self defense it seems to me there’s always a leader functioning as the catalysts who stirs up the people by boisterously exclaiming the dangers poised by some nation or group, the justification for vengeance or the economic and political advantage of conquest, suppression and ill-treatment. Next, there’s the citizens tied to those in charge who cast their lot in with them regardless of what they are proclaiming because they find benefit from doing so. Then there’s the blind sheep; who have a history of following those in charge and continue to do so unquestioningly, while some are swept up by the passion of conflict and follow along aimlessly, while still others are intellectually inclined to be duped into following along because of their own voluntary ignorance or apathy, and some are in fear of going against what seems popular with their peers causing them to halt any questions they may have floating around in their conscience.

Woe to those whose spirit compels them to speak against the flood of popular vengeance. The desire to strike back against a foe is so strong anyone trying to quell the rising tsunami of violence is flooded with anger, revulsion and distrust. The courage it takes to express legitimate descent is ignored as is their deep felt loyalty and patriotism. Throughout history their lot has been plagued with torture, exile and death.

Nailed to a hunk of wood in the hot sun bleeding to death He forgave those who put Him there. A spear pierced His heart to insure He was dead. It’s the deep love contained in that same Precious Bleeding Heart we celebrate this week.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Matthew Chapter 5

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