Monday of Passion Week

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19)

Why do the things that make for peace hide from us? It’s not because we don’t want peace; although what we mean by peace needs scrutiny. It’s not as though peace has not been fought for. (Which no matter how you cut it is the height of irony.)

History is littered with peace treaties that were supposed to contain within them all the things that make for peace. No, the things that make for peace are hidden from us because we are formed in rivalry. Our social structures are formed through exclusion. Even our churches haven’t escaped our penchant for scapegoating. We see through a filter of survival by expulsion and victimization. And it is a heavy filter that colours all we see.

This is easy enough to show. Recall your grade-school years. Recall the class dweeb, the misfit, the one teased to within an inch of his or her sanity. Think about how your own fear of being cast as the misfit compelled you to side with the group. Or do know this from the inside? Think about the group that teased you and how they were held together by having you as a “scapegoat”. How many of our own guests at the Mission are here because of such victimization?

The ostracism and expulsion of the grade school victim is simply a less sophisticated, a more subtle microcosm, of what goes on in all cultures, socially and politically. Nationalism is one obvious example. How are we saved from ourselves? It is Jesus who takes up freely the role of the victim so as to expose once and for all our war-like ways, our bondage to violence.

Palm Sunday

The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!” (John 12)

Containing a King who rides in on a donkey is tricky stuff. Well, apparently impossible. Sacking a King who prefers Palm leaves to streets of gold is down right laughable. Overthrowing a King who wants nothing to do with overthrowing anything is futile. Defeating a King who doesn’t deal in warfare, who doesn’t care about saving his life, only cares about saving the lives of the ones who are out to defeat and kill him, is, well, a ridiculous endeavor.

Jesus’ life and teaching was one of opposites and paradox. It is a life that is capable of opening the eyes of the most hardened and desperate and without intent, concealing the truth from the most pious.

Blessings to all on this Palm Sunday.