Sunday, March 16, 2008

With God on Our Side

It's Palm Sunday, which is a major liturgical event across Christian calendars and, raised as a Catholic, still resonates with me decades after I decided I didn't need the Church, but like to know where the nearest one is, 'just in case.' It's Easter, you see, and NOT Christmas, that makes Christians, Christian.

The Son of God's birth and life weren't what allowed 'mankind' (and women, too) to be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven; it was the sacrifice of His death, our redemption by forfeit of His life, that defines our religion. Faith and good works are one thing--laying down your life for what you believe is entirely another and so trumps any discussion on deeds as faith in action. I know I'm going to wish I had ended this right here. Just as I now know I won't.

In the New Testament, this was a Day of Days-a triumphant entrance, hailed as the long-awaited fulfillment of the Covenant. But, I've always wondered, since Israel was occupied territory and the Romans, beginning as a democracy but now an Empire, were in charge, what did they make of this procession and where were they? After all, they swept down on the Son of God in a matter of days, so they could have stopped him much earlier onwards. Perhaps cited him for overloading a donkey, or passing a religious pilgrim on the right in a school zone, or failing to slow down coming through a viaduct construction area.

I can just see the Roman chariot, the oscillating two blue torches flashing in the early morning daylight of the desert, with the centurion slowly dismounting and walking towards Jesus, lifting his visor as he stares into the eyes of the Son of God.
"Hello, officer," says Jesus. "Is something wrong?"
"Yeah, as if you wouldn't already know that, right?" says the centurion. "I don't suppose you noticed that burning bush back there on the left? You certainly didn't stop, Sir. I'd like to see your license, animal registration and proof of insurance. I see you're with Maccabees' Insurance-good people, have them myself, Sir.
Stay here please while I call this in....."
Or not.

And what would be different about our world, if God had sent his only Son to us now. In an era of instantaneous world-wide communications, wouldn't it have been easier, better, more effective and efficient than in the era He chose? It took the Romans how long to finish the survey of subjects and citizens they had just started when Mary and Joseph had started towards Bethlehem? I've never read how many were in that population, or how many languages were spoken in the Empire. Today, Jesus could have been in The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer or been added to a special edition of Hannity and Colmes (and Christ) bumping John McCain who has certainly used the Lord's name enough, or perhaps He could have been counting down with Keith Olbermann.
Or, in honor of all the times a pitcher after a strike-out points to the heavens, or a basketball player crosses himself before attempting a foul shot, Jesus could sit in with Chris Berman on Sports Center?
Maybe He should hold off on that until Good Friday when, as He carries His own cross up Golgotha, we can hear Chris exclaim, 'he could go all the way.'
-bill kenny

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