Holy Week: Humanity at its worst – and best

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Holy Week, the week before Easter is the best example I know to show humanity’s weaknesses and strengths.
We begin the week on Palm/Passion Sunday with a palm-waving announcement of Jesus’ royalty “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurray for Jesus”
and by Friday we hear “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Why did all those palm-wavers turn into fist-shakers five days later?

An uprising against Roman control had recently been put down and leaders, including Barabbas, were in prison. The city was crowded with people who had arrived for the new year celebrations and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover). The stories were flying about the miraculous cures that Jesus was performing on a regular basis, including Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead. The Jewish religious leaders were meeting to figure out how to protect the temple and the city from Roman retaliation for Jesus’ popularity and they decided that one person’s death was a small sacrifice to assuage the mighty Roman government. It only took a few rumors and the crowd followed along, choosing Barabbas over Jesus when Pilate offered them the choice.

How often have we ourselves swung emotionally 180 degrees like the people of Jerusalem 2000+ years ago? We follow sports stars, TV personalities, and politicians as long as they are doing what we like, but if they fall out of favor, we can quickly yell “Crucify her (or him)!” It’s much harder to hold on to our faith when everyone around us is talking trash about someone.

Yet we have an example in the same story of someone who stood there and took the harsh and demeaning treatment of others and did not respond in kind. In the garden Jesus reminded the disciples that violence did no good and in front of religious and political leaders, he didn’t attack or fight back. He held to his teachings of three years. Love is greater than hate, justice is stronger than politics, and faith is powerful.

Holy week is a time to reset our moral compass so that we can remember that we don’t have to follow the crowd, clamor for retaliation, or attack to protect ourselves. This is not an easy path to follow, yet it is the path that we are on in our daily faith walk. We are human and God has already forgiven us for our human foibles and weaknesses.

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