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17/04/2011

Procession of the Palms - Then, and Now

I've been reading The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. The first few chapters look in part at the meaning of the Procession of the Palms - the First Day of 'Holy Week'.

The authors describe how the procession organised and lead by Jesus into Jerusalem was specifically designed to counter the show of Roman might put on at the beginning of each Passover to put off 'troublemakers'. So whilst Pontius Pilate and his legions of well-armed soldiers and cavalry were marching into Jerusalem from one side of the city, Jesus rode a donkey (an animal symbolising peace) with his peasant followers walking beside him and supporters throwing palm leaves in front (the palm leaf being a Roman sign of victory).

We know now what all this lead to, to a historic clash of two visions of faith, politics and society - two visions of how humanity should live - the vision of a self-serving elite against the vision of a just, compassionate God. As Muslims from Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria have poured out of their mosques to protest against their rulers, I think many paralells can be drawn between this ancient Middle Eastern event and what has been happening in the Middle East today. The clash is far from over. And we, as 'Ordinary Radicals', are called to continue the same struggle as we leave our church buildings and meeting houses.

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