Holy Week 2014--Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday could be called Drama Sunday.  It starts with Jesus's entry into Jerusalem, with the crowds lining the streets waving palms.  We then follow on to the Passion Gospel (Matthew this year), with Judas's betrayal, Peter's denial, the condemnation of the Scribes and the Pharisees, and, of course, the crucifixion of Christ.  These are events of high drama.

The sermon I heard today encouraged us to find our place in the Holy Week story.  In other words, we should try to identify the player in the drama that resonated with where we were at the present time.  Perhaps ironically, during a day of high drama, I was drawn immediately to the least dramatic part of the story--the end.

After the crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus and buried it in the tomb, while Mary Magdelene and the other Mary (which Matthew describes as "the mother of James and Joseph") went to the tomb to keep watch.  In Matthew's account, we are given no indication of the motivations of these characters, other than they were disciples of Jesus.

What were they thinking as they buried Jesus?  Maybe they heard Jesus speak of rising from the dead.  Maybe they did not.  But even if they did, how could they have really believed that Jesus was coming back?  Maybe they were holding onto the hope that Jesus's death would not be the end of his message, and that others would pick up the torch.  Or maybe they just thought Jesus was a good man and they wanted to show him some respect in death, in contrast to his humiliating crucifixion.

Maybe it doesn't matter what they were thinking when they buried Jesus.  The fact is that they buried Jesus, and that simple act set the stage for what was to come.  We have a tendency to try to think ourselves to the Resurrection--I know I do.  We can also try to believe ourselves to the Resurrection.  But Joseph and the Marys show us that, when those fail us, sometimes all that is left is to do.  When our minds fail and our hearts grow dark, we always have our hands to lift up someone else.

The simple acts of kindness we can do for one another can be used as the basis of our Resurrection, even if we cannot see the connections in the moment.

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