Palm Sunday is a day when Jesus looks Empire and oppression in the face and says, YOUR TIME IS UP. As Jesus rides into Jerusalem, the people rally behind him, because He brings a message of hope and inspiration. In ancient (and not so ancient times) when a new King prepared to assume the throne, he would ride into the capital showcasing his military power. Jesus counters this image by riding a donkey, not a horse, to make sure that people didn’t mistake his royal claims with that of the Roman Empire.
Jesus challenged the power of Rome from a position different than military strength.
Instead of resentment - reconciliation
Instead of punishment - forgiveness
Instead of war - peace
Instead of scarcity - abundance
Instead of hatred - love
Instead of division - community
Instead of greed - community
Jesus engaged in political protest and used public theater to highlight the problem of Empire. We see this in our world - protests, sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and civil disobedience are designed to tap into this same public theater to call out the injustice and show that there is a better way.
For the past few years, I have been numb to gun violence. After Sandy Hook, I resigned myself to a world where we just accepted a certain amount of death in our society.
But then students decided to shock our conscience, organize, and proclaim - YOUR TIME IS UP!
This is a similar message that we hear throughout the Gospels of Christian Scripture. Time is up for oppression. The Canticle of the Turning, highlights this message very clearly as well.
Students – black and white, gay and straight, immigrant and natural born Americans - came together to make the bold statement that TIME IS UP. They walked of school. They are fed up with the adult’s acceptance of violence. They declare, regardless of the consequences, that ‘We’ve had enough.’ It’s a threat – a political one. They will no longer accept the laws and policies to remain as they are. Like Jesus, they didn’t come with the traditional show of power. They didn’t come with weapons, money, or social status. Heck, these kids can’t even threaten to vote against leaders who ignore their demands because most of these kids aren’t old enough to vote…yet.
Instead they came with the power of their voice and truth. Many teachers, advocates, and community leaders rallied behind the students and shouted praise! For a short moment, these student’s protestors captivated America. We embraced their leadership and their vision for the future.
That is until the pushback begins. We want to avoid controversy. We want to avoid tension. We don’t want to put in the work of changing laws and challenging the status quo. Just like the Disciples on Good Friday, we will flee and leave many of the students vulnerable and alone, again.
Despite the lack of military weapons, campaign contributions, or other forms of worldly power, we all possess power to stand on the side of the road and shout HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST! We have the power of our voice. We are called to use it to promote God’s Justice in the world.
BLESSED PROTEST SUNDAY!