(N.B. I wrote this reflection for the Catholic Volunteer Network 2016 Lenten Reflection Guide.)
Will You Follow? –Luke 22:14-23:56
Palm Sunday is all about walking, isn’t it? We find ourselves walking alongside the massive crowd who gathered outside of Jerusalem, waving our palm fronds, and singing, “All glory, laud, and honor to you, Redeemer King.” We find ourselves walking with the crowd as they bring Jesus, bound in chains like a criminal, to the authorities. We walk around–pacing in anxiety–as Pilate questions our Lord, probes him unnecessarily and makes fun of him. We walk behind Jesus, stripped and beaten, as he makes his way to Calvary, as massive wooden cross bearing down on his already bruised and broken body. And then, after all that walking, we are asked a question: Will you follow? That is, perhaps the hardest question of the Christian life, because it carries so many implications. The Passion narrative is one of miscarried justice. An innocent man–declared innocent by the governor–is sentenced to brutalization, to humiliation, and to death on a cross. Make no mistake–our “yes” to Jesus’ question of “Will you follow?” will always lead to the cross. When we choose to turn away from injustice, from sin, from violence, from racism, from homophobia, from any and all forms of oppression, we choose to walk alongside Jesus to the cross. But do not fear! For the whole Church in heaven and on earth joins with you, waving palms, and singing “Hosanna!”
O Jesus Christ, Redeemer King, help us to walk in your shadow as you being your long journey to the cross. Make us mindful of those who are beaten, humiliated, and executed daily around the world. Teach us to confront the evil and oppression in our own lives, in our own communities, and in our own country. Wrap us in your kind embrace when we become frightened or anxious. We ask this always in the name of the One who breaks chains and sets all people free. Amen.
Values Focus: Community
If you are choosing to walk with Jesus on the cross, think for a moment about who is joining you? What does that community look like? How are your current (or previous) experience of community shaping and guiding your Lenten journey toward the cross? What does it feel like knowing that a community–your own, your parish, the Church–joins you on this journey?
Think about the people in your neighborhoods, parishes, service-sites, and faith communities who do a lot of walking? Who are these people? There are a lot of people in my neighborhood who have to get to and from work, the doctor, the grocery store, and church on foot. There is also an exercise facility for senior citizens, most of whom walk laps around the building by themselves or in small groups. Consider joining some of these people–getting to know them, talking with them, praying with them–as they walk from place to place or around the gym. Take this opportunity to build relationships.