Lent 2017: Reflection for Palm Sunday, April 9 – On Jesus’s way of active nonviolence

by Wamũyũ Wachira
Board Member, Pax Christi International

Matthew 21:1-11 | Isaiah 50:4-7 | Philippians 2:6-11 | Matthew 26:14-27:66

What does it mean to celebrate Palm Sunday devoid of all power trappings and in the midst of a migration crisis and violence in all its forms?

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. We accompany Jesus as he enters Jerusalem until his death on a cross. Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem is unique as he uses a colt and the people receive him by covering the path with their cloaks and palm branches as they shout aloud, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Is this not a contradiction of what is expected of a king? Why did Jesus choose to use a colt instead of riding in the latest model helicopter? Why did the people use their cloaks and branches instead of a red carpet that befits such a leader? Why does he choose Jerusalem instead of going back to Nazareth, his place of birth?  Jesus is inviting us to shed off the trappings of power and embrace all people.

During this holy week we accompany Jesus, a king who is stripped of all the glory, who chooses to keep quiet when accused, to forgive and embrace all his enemies, to act nonviolently when spat on, slapped, crowned with thorns, ridiculed and nailed on a cross. He does not summon his mighty soldiers to fight for him, or disperse the crowds with tear gas, or kill using drones. He challenges his disciples to put away the sword and not to retaliate. Jesus’s mission is that all may have and enjoy fullness of life (John 10:10).

As we celebrate Palm Sunday this year, 2017, we are invited and challenged to active nonviolence which is at the core of Jesus’s mission – to speak, act and feel nonviolently when confronted with violence.

Teresia Wamũyũ Wachira, IBVM is a member of the Pax Christi International Board. Currently, she is a Senior Lecturer in Peace Studies at St. Paul’s University in Nairobi, Kenya.

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