Saturday, 28 March 2015

Tipping Point

Palm Sunday 

Mark 11:1-10
Wouldn't it be lovely, just one year, not to have the horror of Good Friday looming over this event? For some paradox of time to switch the ending of the week to something less guilt-riddenOne of the hardest parts of the Gospel for me to read without shuddering at what was going to happen next. 

Ignatian Spirituality embraces the practice of imaginative meditation as well as contemplative prayer. Placing yourself in the Gospel can teach, heal and inspire. 
This year, the thought occurs to me that Pope Francis may well be joining Jesus in having a Palm Sunday moment or two. 

For both of them, all that time in the desert, the message was being passed, believed, ignored, dismissed. Until the summoning of the Spirit brings them out of the soul thirsting, dryness and the unending struggle of the darkened and dry valleys of hopelessness and poverty. 

As they teeter on the tipping point of their lives a decision is made - how am I going to do this? How do I subvert the expectations of the world.

Jesus, for the first time ever (and against the desire of the authorities) accepts a position of honour and the homage of the crowd. Pulling together prophecy and  expectationhe creates the image everyone was waiting for. And they react in kind. Rephrasing the usual pilgrim's welcome to bless the King who comes in the name of the Lord; they deafen the onlookers with their praise. The world is present in Jerusalem. The crowd, overcome by the spectacle, are giving him the clothes off their backs.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been following his Lord's example for over two years now. As Francis, he stands as a servant; with borrowed clothes and second hand jewellery; he speaks to the faiths and cultures of the world; the crowd pour blessings onto him. He feeds the hungry and provides showers and hairdressers for the homeless. He takes hospitality with him wherever he goes, for whoever he meets.  The media delights in daily discourse and uncovering one more fact or fancy. 

In the next few days for Jesus, and the following years. with God's grace,  for Francis, life is going to get much more uncomfortable. 

How easy it would be to keep Jesus on his colthow easy to keep Francis up on his pedestal - letting them challenge the status quo whilst we wave our flags from the sidelines. How easy, then, to be the onlooker; the critic; the cynic; believing that these challenges are surely not made towards us. 

The authorities will have little patience now with Jesus; a threat to the spiritual and the imperial leadership, he has put his head in the lion's mouth and it is only a matter of time. Even his followers of three years will turn on him in one way or another.    

 For Francis - asked to build a living church - a different culture; a different time; a different set of values - two thousand years of faith and tradition- surely we are better prepared? The scandals of Rome are a matter of opinion. Feeding the poor, welcoming the marginalised, women on the sanctuary. 

The crowds will fade taking their memories with them; the media will pack up and go home; the flag will be used as a duster and the only people left will be those for whom the Gospel is a living truth. Those who want to destroy it and those who want to build it. 


1 comment:

Lynda said...

A very insightful post giving us lots to think about. Your ending is very powerful - we often forget that those who want to destroy Christianity believe that it is the truth.