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  • Wayne Chasney

Two Processions

Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! (Mark 11:9)

 

              This is how Jesus entered Jerusalem to begin what we commonly call ‘Holy Week.’ It begins with a triumphant entrance into Jerusalem with people waving branches and shouting hosannas, which means ‘save, please,’ as Jesus rode into the city on the back of a donkey.

              In their book, The Last Week, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan write, “Two processions entered Jerusalem on a spring day in the year 30.” One was Jesus, coming down from the Mt. of Olives, humble and riding on a colt. The other was an imperial procession with Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, leading a host of Roman troops into the city. This was a show of power meant to keep the peace during the Jewish festival of Passover.

              Borg and Crossan write,

Jesus’s procession proclaimed the kingdom of God; Pilate’s proclaimed the power of empire. The two processions embody the central conflict of the week that led to Jesus’s crucifixion.

 

              This contrast between the worldly kingdom of Rome and the kingdom of God as embodied and proclaimed by Jesus fills the gospels. It’s no wonder the authorities wanted Jesus out of the way.

              The struggle between worldly kingdoms and heavenly ones continues today. We have the choice of placing our trust in the power, wealth, and arrogance of the world, or trusting in the love, compassion, and humility Jesus proclaimed.

              Here in Holy Week, we have the opportunity to reflect on our choices once again. Do we worship the idols of the world, or do we worship God alone? Do we long for empire, or do we long for the kingdom of God? Do we choose greed and selfishness or generosity and love?

              Good Friday is the world’s response to the kingdom of God Jesus proclaimed.

              Easter Sunday is the promise that God does not give up, and ultimately God’s kingdom will come.

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