Establishing True Justice on Earth

This is the crazy week that returns true sanity to a world gone mad, when God gives his Son to redeem a slave and we dare to sing of the ‘happy fault’ of Adam’s sin. It is the time when true justice is re-established on earth. As we read Isaiah 42. 1–7 (today’s first Mass reading) we are reminded that we are not passive observers of the events of Holy Week: we are participants. The re-establishment of true justice is primarily the work of Christ’s redeeming passion, death and resurrection, of course, but we must also do our part. We too are called to serve the cause of right, to open the eyes of the blind, set prisoners free and lighten the darkness of those bound in dungeons of their own or others’ making. The question for us therefore is, what constitutes true justice and how do we contribute to its achievement?

The answers we give will tend to vary but an important element in all of them will be the restoration of right order to a world that often seems mixed up and out of tune with itself. Some of us will naturally incline to a more active approach to solving or at least alleviating obvious wrongs, belonging to advocacy groups or campaigning on behalf of individuals or a perceived good, such as famine relief or pro-life issues. Others, especially those for whom such active involvement is impossible, may take heart from today’s gospel, John 12.1–11. There we find an act much more powerful than may at first appear. The pouring out of that jar of nard over the feet of Jesus was pure extravagance — a mark of reckless love, of infinite tenderness we remember today, long after the charities distributed by the apostles have been forgotten. I think there is something there for each of us to learn about true justice and the restoration of right order. Love, and love alone, is the key.

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Palm Sunday 2019

Christ's entry into Jerusalem: 1304-06
Fresco
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua
Christ’s entry into Jerusalem: 1304-06 by Giotto
Fresco in the Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

Throughout Holy Week we must decide where we stand: with Christ, or against him. On Palm Sunday the choice is critical. Are we ready to follow Jesus in his triumphal procession, knowing that the hosannas we sing today will soon turn into cries of ‘crucify him, crucify him!’ or do we want to play safe, keep all our options open or use any of the weasel words we employ to mask our cowardice and indecision? Even those of us among the crowd of onlookers must make our choice: are we for him, or against him?

There is a third choice, though it is not an obvious one. We can be the donkey that carries the Lord into Jersusalem, the Christ-bearer. We became Christ-bearers when we were baptized but we often ignore or undervalue what that means. To carry Christ, to take him where he wills to go, is no mean task, no mean feat. It is the glory of the disciple to do exactly that. This morning perhaps we could all reflect on what it means to be the Lord’s donkey, not just today but every day of our lives.

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