The Stones Are Crying Out!
What a mob scene it must have been that day when Jesus entered Jerusalem to the cries of “Hosanna” and “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
It was a disturbing scene to the Pharisees. They asked Jesus to rebuke his disciples and stop all the nonsense. Jesus’ reply was terse and to the point. “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out.”
Over the past few weeks, we have been witnesses to several mob scenes with people shouting praise or derision for one or the other demagogue (sometimes disguised as a political candidate). In the ensuing scuffles with epithets flying like a hail of bullets, at least one of these candidates nourished the basest instincts of the crowd with promises designed to appeal to the worst demons and greatest fears of the audience. No mind that these promises would never be kept.
Jesus did not arrive at the city on a jumbo jet, but seated on an ass, the foal of a beast of burden. His triumphant entry was the proclamation and the symbol of a new kind of kingdom. As it turns out, however, what the crowd really wanted was a king who would take on the oppressive Roman emperor for them, not a spiritual ruler who was inviting them to a kingdom of peace and justice. By the end of the week the shouts of praise turned to cries of condemnation.
If there was a need for the proclamation of a kingdom of justice and peace in the first century, there is a great need today. Many people around the globe are in silent agony. In most of the developed world and even in the United States those who suffer most seem to be deprived of their voice.
I think on this Palm Sunday 2016, the stones are crying out for those who are silenced. Are the stones crying out for us to wall people out? Are they crying for us to create a new caste system where only the wealthiest among us count? Are they crying out for the sanctity of human life to be disdained? Are they crying out to demonize others?
I don’t think so.
The stones are crying out for the sacredness of human life and the dignity of all people. They are crying out with a call to family, community, and the right for everyone to participate in society and to seek the common good.
The stones are crying out to protect human rights and for us all to take responsibility for one another. They are crying out for us all to protect the poor and the vulnerable, the displaced and the weak, and those who are rejected and isolated in society.
The stones are shouting to protect the dignity of work and the rights of workers so that the economy serves the people and not the other way around.
The stones are shouting to get above the din of the crowd and remind us that we are one human family—brothers and sisters—and that loving our neighbor has a global dimension.
And the stones are crying out for us all to respect the work of creation and to care for the earth and to realize that such care is a requirement of the kingdom that Jesus rode into Jerusalem to proclaim.
In this Sunday’s New Testament reading, we hear the message from Philippians about Jesus’ willingness to sacrifice everything personal to proclaim the reign of God:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Holy Week is a time to line up our own attitudes, hopes, and wishes for the future with the entire Gospel message not just tidbits. We won’t measure up—to be sure. But we need to know that we are hearing the cries of the whole human family and not just the noise of the few.
[By the way, I read a great reflection on Palm Sunday written by Patrick Carolan, the Executive Director of Franciscan Action Network. Take a minute to follow the link and make it part of your meditation to start off the week. WHAT IF?]
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!