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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sunday of Palms and the Characters

Hosanna! they sang. Less than a week from now, they will be screaming "crucify Him!" As I sat there after Mass today, I had to take account of the various characters in the passion. There are many of them, and they represent a cast of players that recur in history.

The whole story has a thread of people who fall on one side or the other of one question: who do they say Christ is.

The women. St. Luke's Gospel mentions the women who were gathered there to console Jesus. You know this pack of women also tsk-tsk'ed the roman guards. It had to be because they have done it everywhere else they show up in history. As one of them was crying for Jesus, another pehaps over her shoulder had to be giving the maternal evil eye to one of the Roman Guards that surely reminded that guard of the same look his mother gave him when he tried to sneak a cookie early or had been caught in a fib. Where are they today?

Pilate. Talk about someone who missed the hint. Pilate obviously knew he was doing the wrong thing. But he had no cajones. St. Luke tells us today that Pilate wanted the crowd to pick Jesus. Pilate is the kind of guy that is smart, very smart, but seems to not realize that he had to act at some point to halt the injustice developing under his nose. Eventually, he washes his hands of it as if he could do nothing.

Dismas. My man. My favorite character. He speaks up from his cross to silence the other thief. That's all he could do from there. I've often wondered that if Dismas could move, whether he'd have slapped the other thief. Dismas says it best: we deserve it, but He is innocent. He spoke out to clarify what an injustice was being done to Jesus, ending up asking our Lord to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. That last part being the act of faith: Dismas recognized that Who appeared before him to be a mere man was indeed God become man. Wow.

Herod. selfish prick. He wanted proof that Jesus was right. He also wanted the pleasure of seeing a miracle. Jesus didn't even speak to Him lest Herod's curiosity be satisfied.

Longinus. "Truly this was the son of God." the centurion got the answer right. Even though it looked like the law was being followed, the centurion recognized what had happened and opened his mouth. From those words, forever there is testimony that even the Romans came to believe from what happened that day. I've often wondered if Longinus didn't try talking Pilate into halting things back at the palace. We don't know from the Gospel, but I can imagine he said something in an attempt to persuade Pilate to stop it. Maybe Pilate got the idea to put the choice to the crowd from something Longinus said.

Nicodemus. the undercover agent. no doubt he was there somewhere hidden in the crowd.

On and on I could go about this Gospel today. But I want to point out one thing in its application to some events of the day. Dismas got to Heaven for speaking truth about an injustice occurring before his eyes. So did Longinus.

None of the people we honor just "went along" to play nice and be charitable. They spoke up.

I wonder if, in the view of things being done in the name of the Blessed Mother, the set of characters aren't as similar.

Who do you want to be in that crowd? Who are you in that crowd? In whose shoes do you most closely stand?