If we look at the whole rather than the specifics we can see that it is a procession of events that starts with the procession into Jerusalem. This first event is a parody of the entry of civic leaders at that time people, such as Caesar or the governor Pontius Pilate. An entry that we still see in the visiting of foreign or famous dignitaries into town's and cities of Australia. Just think of the crowds of well wishers that attended the visit of Prince Charles. Is this event pointing out that popularity is not what it is about but rather for people of faith to attend to the deeper things in life that call to us. Things such as justice and love rather than the playing the popularity game. Does this event not charge us with the vitality to call for a greater love in the world a love that relies solely on a freely given commitment to love's call on us rather than one seeking reward?
Our next real event for the week is on Thursday with the hosting of a supper for all. An open hospitality that asks of us to invite all into communion with each other in the presence of God. Christ welcomes all his followers to the supper including the one who was to betray him. Our welcome is so often spoilt by the fact that it is the select few that are welcome, and those are friends, whilst we shun those we deem unfit or not part of us. This event draws us into a community that embraces all of God's people no matter who or where they are from. It is also an event that embraces the concept of service to those who appear to be lesser than ourselves. Traditionally a select few people (often 12) are drawn upon to have their feet washed by the leader. In other places, many people have their feet washed (all who wish to come forward) by one person or by those who are leaders in the place. In thinking about this what we really need to decide is; Is this a show or is this a real service of submission in the heart to serve God in the least of God's people? Is it fun or is it a deeper sense of service that we would otherwise not achieve? How does this event challenge our thinking in the way we serve the community within and without the Parish community? Do we go out into the world following the service with a deeper understanding of our own role to which we have been called as Christians or do we go out with a feeling of self fulfillment having participated in a liturgical event which has little to do with everyday life? Do we wash the feet of our 'political' / 'business' / 'social' rivals and betrayers to show them that despite all we still serve them as well?
At the end of the night we are reminded that we go into the darkness of a trial and the nightmare of an event that reverberates around the world to this day. Can we cope with the devastation of a meaningless legal tribunal that appears to be subject to the whims of political expediency rather than the seeking of true justice in the world? Even in the present day this trial (event) is often repeated day after day by governments around the world as they seek to appease their own guilt by casting around to find scapegoats to offer up as sacrifice to appease the popular vote. In looking at our systems of justice and democracy we find such grand concepts lacking as we search for our personal goals and outcomes or even politics (see the arguments and disruption caused by the proposed appointment of a new judge in the US Supreme Court).
Three crosses. Which is ours?
We draw closer to the cross and death as we walk the route of the stations, slippages in time that call to us to stand up and become what we are called to become as a people. In the end we too chastise those that are 'guilty' and scourge those that have been found to be wanting in society. We fail to offer the assistance of unconditional love to those who are weighed down by burdens to hard for them to carry. We ring our hands in despair and weep because of our failures to stop the procession towards injustice and hatred in the world. We stand on the edges and watch while others nail our ideals and aspirations on the cross of expediency rather than protest for fear that we too will be hoisted on to that same cross of shame. We bear witness to the death of all that is good that we name God.
Yes, God does die in the process but then today we need to acknowledge that the anthropomorphic God(s) that intervene/s should die to allow for the call of God to become real in our lives. We cannot depend on an exterior force but rather we must show the face of God in our own actions to our own fellow sojourners created together to form relationship. The face of the Christ to all of creation from which we derive our existence. We need to become God bearers and Christ presenters to our communities. Seeking the call of justice and for a love that never materialises until we ourselves reach out to our neighbours without seeking something from them or for ourselves.