Palm Sunday: Satire and Civil Disobedience
I tend, on occasion, to get bored with Christianity. And I wonder sometimes whether Christianity really, after all, has any relevance to the unfolding of social history, with all its violence and hostility.
Then Palm Sunday rolls around.
Let me ask you to think that Palm Sunday exhibits two “disciplines” too seldom considered as fundamental to being human in the world:
satire |ˈsaˌtīr| noun
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize stupidity, particularly in the context of politics
civil disobedience |ˈsɪvɪl ˈˌdɪsəˈbidiəns| noun
the refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest
The context for Jesus’ so-called “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, remembered on Palm Sunday, was the celebration of the Passover. Jesus and his disciples were preparing to participate in this annual feast, and this annual feast was a sort of paradigmatic anti-imperialist celebration: to again become a people who had seen the horse and rider of Pharaoh cast down, his warriors thrown into the sea, and themselves delivered from the bondage of slavery.
And by Jesus’ day, of course, Pharaoh had been replaced with Caesar. There is always another pretentious power quick to fill the vacuum left when the most recent one bites the dust. So now it was Rome. And the natives in Jerusalem would often get restless at Passover time, ready for this God who had promised deliverance to act again in a great display of magnificent power to overthrow the powers. And this Jesus seemed to be a good candidate as the newly anointed one to accomplish such a deed . . .
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