Lent 6 - Year C
If the text says, “After this . . . .” it is wise to listen to what went before to set a context for where we now are located.
When reading what went before (a parable about kings or commanders-in-chief, a la Samuel’s warning that they will put the people in bondage) we will be able to hear a persistent fanfare for fairness under all expressions of privilege.
The The New Interpreter’s Bible says this about the parable and justice:
“...the parable . . . is opposed to the quests of earthly kings for vengeance and profit at the expense of the poor.
”What should we say, for example, when those who have access to medical care protest the expense of providing medical care for those who have none? “Lord, they already have. . . .”? What should we say when municipalities channel funds for road repair, police protection, or school equipment to well-to-do neighborhoods while neglecting the needs in other areas? “Lord, they already have. . . .”? What should we say when regressive taxes are proposed that protect the assets of the wealthy at the expense of the poor? “Lord . . .”?
Now envision this Palm Sunday scene through the eyes of a public demonstration with huge puppets. Hear the sarcasm in “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” as they dance around one who has just taken a donkey because of his “need”.
Demonstrating goodness in teachings and healings had not reminded the powers that be of creation’s grace. This demonstration also has no effect on those interested in order and power for the benefits they derive from them.
Teachers do not accede to a demand to self-censor. Teachers know that wisdom is always latent and will eventually come out. Wisdom here is that a cry for justice is called for, particularly when it cannot be voiced. Even a dark, stone-sealed tomb is a cry for justice.
Don’t get caught thinking this story is just a procession ceremony. It is a last attempt to be seen by the invisible people of the day. When overt and covert rebellion failed, when modeled goodness failed, when public theatre failed, Jesus wept that the justice needed for peace to build upon it could not be brought about by any particular technique. This cleansing of tears leads to a cleansing of a symbol of economic injustice as strong in its day as reference to 9-11 is in ours.
Palm Sunday is not a feel-good children’s parade with palm branches, but a call to enter the stage of life, to experience catharsis, and to go forth to cleanse that which attempts to silence a creation-deep call for communal wholeness.