At this weekend’s liturgy we spend more time than usual listening to the scriptures. There’s an extra gospel reading right at the beginning of Mass with the palm procession recalling Jesus triumphant entry to Jerusalem. The crowds were welcoming Jesus spreading a palm carpet before him and hailing him as a great king:
“And those who went before and those who followed cried out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The gospel reading of the Mass is the full account of the passion of Jesus according to Mark. Within days of welcoming Jesus to their city the crowds have changed their tune and call for his blood “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
In the midst of the changing moods and demands of the crowds, Jesus stands out as an original. He does not allow the crowd to decide how he will speak or act.
The Old Testament reading gives us a key to how to live with the integrity that is the mark of our personal and unique creation in the image of God. This is the life of the disciple of Jesus, one who is does not seek camouflauge in the safety of the crowd, but one who acts and speaks in harmony with their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ:
“The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue. So that I may know how to reply to the wearied he provides me with speech. Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord has opened my ear.”
A school principal commented to me once that the teenagers in their strictly uniformed school often asked for a mufti day. When the young people were asked why they wanted to wear mufti they replied that they wanted to be free to wear whatever they liked, to express themselves, to be unique and not uniformed. When the students arrived at school wearing mufti none of them were in school uniform, but they were all wearing very similar styles and colour of clothing.
It often takes a courageous decision to simply be ourselves.
It’s helpful to remember that the fact that we are created in the image of God does not mean that we are cookie-cutter-factory-produced robots. Given the uniqueness of every person it is evident that God’s intention is that each of us show different aspect of the reality of God to the world.
If I settle for conforming to the crowd then people will not see the aspect of God that God created me to reveal to the world, and I will not know integrity.
Take a moment to remember that you are an original and unique creation of God. You were created by God to reveal to the world something about the life of God that no-one else is able to communicate.
While there may be a temporary comfort in following the crowd, we show integrity when we live in harmony with the intention of our creator for each of us.
This reflection sits well with us this Sunday on retreat in Tauranga where people of mature faith share the uniqueness that makes them one in Christ Jesus. My heart comes to its knees in gratitude for the way Jesus works with us.
Yes it takes courage to stand outside the crowd. The strength to carry it through is at the foot of the cross. Thank you Fr John and may you be blessed with good health during the call of this Holy Week.
Jesus took time to respond to individual people – I love that!!!