We look at today’s entry into Jerusalem, as Jesus was supported in great rejoicing by crowds of onlookers, and we wonder at the fickleness of humanity. In just one week many people from that same crowd will be jeering Christ, laughing at him and no doubt waiting for his crucifixion with relish.
Today we joined Christ the great Messiah who enters the city as a king, a man on whom the people pin their hopes and dreams, a man who will lead a great army. The people did not see, however, that the army that Christ represented was not one of spears and arrows, armour and war. Yes, this was the kind of Messiah that the people had learned through Scripture to anticipate. But Christ was a man who challenged everything that went before; his triumphal entry to Jerusalem was the beginning of a new kingship in which Christ suffered death for the salvation of sins. He wore humility as his armour, integrity as his spear, love as his teaching.
Psychologists have a name for what happens when individuals act differently in a group: for example, when they follow more deviant and nefarious paths because they feel they won’t be identified in group setting. It is called deindividuation. We see it nowadays, not least on the Internet. Perhaps the crowds in front of Jesus and Pilate on Good Friday were acting out a certain deindividuation. There was none of that today, though, as they welcomed Jesus, throwing down their garments and palm branches to cushion his way. We do have a way, us humans, of following the will of the crowd, and sometimes we lose the paths of our own integrity.
We have to ask ourselves: what would we do as members of today’s crowd? And what would we do as members of Good Friday’s crowd? Where would our allegiance stand; where would we place ourselves in the social spectrum of the day?
In some ways, today’s social spectrum is not unlike that of two thousand years ago. We Christians are often frowned upon. We are not the majority. We come to culture as outcasts. Does this make us shape-shift away from our beliefs, or do we stand true to the message of the Gospel? Are we, one minute, throwing down our cloak for Christ, and the next minute jeering at him, simply because that is what everyone else is doing? Today’s Gospel gives us much to think about as we find our own way, not only through the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, but through a world that daily abandons Christ and asks us what we will do about it.