Throughout the Lenten season, we’ve been posting reflections for holy days and Sundays from this year’s Lenten reflection booklet, The Beauty We Must Hold Fast To: Reflections for Lent 2022, written by former Pax Christi USA General Secretaries, National Coordinators and Executive Directors. Click here to see all reflections as they are posted as well as links to other Lenten resources on our Lent 2022 webpage. Today’s reflection is written by Anne McCarthy, OSB, Pax Christi USA’s national coordinator from 1991-94.
reflection for PALM SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2022
by Anne McCarthy, OSB
Having said this, Jesus went ahead with the ascent to Jerusalem (Lk. 19:28)
In Luke’s gospel, Jesus’ high-profile entry into Jerusalem begins a day of action initiating a well-orchestrated, strategic nonviolent campaign that ends with Jesus’ arrest and execution.
As Pax Christi USA celebrates our 50th anniversary, the first day of Jesus’ Jerusalem campaign is one to ponder. Jesus’ range of emotions on this long day of action challenge us to risk the emotional intensity of any struggle for liberation.
Jesus’ dramatic entry into Jerusalem on a colt is in direct contrast to the Roman leadership’s shows of military power. The massive, noisy procession into Jerusalem, the seat of the Roman government and center of religious ritual and authority, must have felt exhilarating, giving a taste of God’s reign. Caught up in the energy and emotion of the crowd, everyone can taste the promise of a new day. Today, our “hosanna” chant is “The people, united, will never be defeated; El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido!” We know the power of this energy to fuel the long, hard work that is to come.
Yet in the midst of that intoxicating energy, Jesus stops, overcome with grief when he sees the city. Jesus weeps for the coming destruction and for the blindness of the people to the ways of peace. His tears are for the present, and the future he realizes is bleak. Surely powerlessness and despair are mixed in with his sadness. How often have we experienced that emotional soup? Without fake consolation or the false pretense of a happy ending, Jesus gives space to the painful, emotional experience.
Jesus then enters Jerusalem and goes directly to the Temple and begins throwing out the vendors. His righteous anger is at religious systems whose collusion with empire has turned a beloved, sacred house of prayer into a place of corruption chewing up those in poverty. Jesus intervenes in a violent system, dismantling the tools of oppression. Jesus’ anger is fueled by grief and also by hope, but especially love. His compassion for those suffering, his grounding in religious tradition, and love of God were at the root of his prophetic action. Jesus channels anger into energy and courage to disrupt oppression and protect the vulnerable.
It’s easy to find an exhilarating procession to join and stop there. It’s more difficult to engage at the heart-level long-term. Perhaps in this anniversary year we can go to that scary place which Jesus dared to embrace.
- Can you relate now with any of Jesus’ emotions on his entry into Jerusalem? If so, which ones?
- Are there gifts from those emotions in your work for justice?
>> Join us on Monday, April 11, for our weekly Lenten prayer service, when we will read a reflection from Anne McCarthy, osb, from Holy Week. Click here for more information and to register.
ACTION: Plan or participate in a “Way of the Cross” event on Good Friday, connecting the sufferings of Christ during his passion with the suffering of our brothers and sisters at the hands of violence, greed, poverty, sickness and war. You can find resources for groups interested in undertaking a Way of the Cross in their community on Good Friday at this link. Please fill out this form to let us know if you have a Way of the Cross planned in your community. We will list the names of groups, with contact information, which will be staging a Way of the Cross this year on our website here.
Anne McCarthy, OSB was the national coordinator of Pax Christi USA from 1991-94. She coordinates the online Monasteries of the Heart communities, co-facilitates the Listening Hearts program & is the resource person for Monasteries of the Heart in prisons. She coordinates Benedictines for Peace, leads retreats on nonviolence & monastic spirituality and has been an active member of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.