Parade or March?

This Sunday is Palm Sunday, and although most of the parishes in this country will (should?) still be pretty virtual, with just a small gathering of a few meeting in person, it’s no reason not to have a parade, Beloved!

Or, is it a march?

That’s an important distinction, actually, and one I think the Gospel reading from Mark invites us to consider.

Was Jesus having a parade or a march?

Parades are a fun show-off event, right? And certainly Mark 11:1-11 invites us to imagine that it had that sort of festiveness. “Hosanna!” they yell. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

It sounds like an invitation to line the streets with palm branches, waving them high as the disciples throw out candy to the kids…

But maybe it’s actually a march.

Like, maybe the people thought it was a parade, but Jesus was actually on a march, on the move, interjecting himself into the proceedings of the world in a way that caused disruption.

I mean, it certainly disrupted things…

The mockery that Jesus was involved in here should not be missed. Riding in on a donkey was a plain middle-finger to the high-riding generals and politicians of the day who would enter occupied territories on their white stallions with a slew of soldiers in tow.

Jesus sits on an ass, saying (in not so many words) that those politicians were the real asses…

In the end, of course, those politicians and religious elites will try to make an ass out of him, stringing him high on a cross, bringing him up on false charges, claiming he incited an insurrection when, in reality, the conditions of the day were reason enough to rebel.

I’ll say that again for those in the back: the conditions of the day are reason enough to rebel.

It reminds me of the marches we’ve had on the streets this last year.

No, I’m not talking about the attack on the Capitol which, though it was an insurrection, was predicated on a false narrative of election fraud, outright race-baiting, and grievance politics.

I’m talking about the death of unarmed people on the streets of our cities.

I’m talking about the rise of racist violence, especially in recent days against our siblings of Asian descent.

Was this just a mocking parade Jesus was participating in?

Or was he marching for our lives?

It’s a question I’m pondering in these days…it’s probably a question I’d lift up if I were preaching this Sunday.

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