This is called Palm Sunday as we join in praise with those welcoming Jesus as a conquering king. This is called Passion Sunday as we join with those unjustly calling for his death. So how can today be two very different days? The two points may seem contradictory but in reality it is not because Jesus’ identity has changed. We have changed. We are two sided. The reading includes Jesus being put on trial by the powers of that day. Yet, in reality, we are the ones being judged by God. We and the world created by our hands has been put on trial. We were not innocent then nor are we innocent now. Our lives of injustice, abuse, debasing of others betray us.
The title begins, ‘Our Hate.’ Hate is the operative word and exposes what is going on around us. Oh sure, none of us claims to hate anyone. Yet the past couple years display the nature of how we look down upon and deny others their rights as created in the image of God. We fear “them” and so we lash out violently. We fear loss of power and so a mob invades the halls of congress. We fear the loss of privilege and so the rules are changed to protect what we have created for our benefit. Black Lives Matter is the outpouring from a long time of justice denied. Violence against the Asian community spiked beyond the usual because of anger at Covid-19.
There is no sugar coating this day. If we fail to honestly look at ourselves and how we recognize others and how we treat them, then we are minimizing what happened on that day of crucifixion and what led up to it. Jesus’ trial exposed our lies, deceit, acceptance of the innocent suffering, the mockery, protecting our position of advantage at the expense of others, etc. If we won’t look carefully at ourselves then we are admitting that what happened then is still acceptable today. The week ahead isn’t to be glossed over to prepare for Easter family events. This week is to examine how “hate” has taken hold of us just like back then. How we perpetuate it and allow it to continue.
The second part of the title is “God’s Response.” God’s response to our hate is found in Jesus Christ. In him, God entered into our humanity…our flesh and blood. In him, God took upon himself our denial of justice, acceptance of lies, violence against those different, etc and put it all to death on his cross. He put it all to death on his cross. This is love.
So this day leaves us at a crossroad. Will we glide through Holy Week comfortable with lives lived out in “our hate?” Or, will we put “our hate” where it belongs and that is on the cross of Jesus Christ? The reading ends with the lifeless body of Jesus laid to rest in a tomb. The world’s “hate” has done its work once again. However, God is not done responding which is for next week.