the past months, there has been a surge at the border. Multiple processions filing in. Caravans, looking for peace, fleeing their homes from violence and challenges in Central America, seeking asylum as they file northward hoping for something better.
processions of military. Forces to hold the line, to “keep the peace.” Razor wire and tear gas. Arrests, detention, family separation; even children held in inhumane conditions. The armed personnel attempt to discourage anyone else from seeking peace in
this place, for fear that the peace for those in this place will be disrupted by those who seek peace here.
yesterday, yet another procession. A procession of Episcopalians, making stops as we journeyed to the border. Followers of the prince of peace, we eventually arrived at the border to celebrate the Eucharist. We had planned to celebrate with our brothers
and sisters across the border fence, but security concerns prevented the diocese of Western Mexico from participating. We celebrated anyway, a procession recognizing the dignity of every human, all of us made in God’s image and worthy of peace without regard
to borders or legal status.
to the procession into Jerusalem we celebrate today, Biblical scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan describe two processions into Jerusalem on that day so long ago as Passover began. On one side, Pilate, representative of the empire, marched in. It
would have been a show of power and force; rows of soldiers and horses and armor. Rome kept the peace, but it was a peace that was kept by ensuring that there was no room for any dissent. As they marched in, they would have passed rows of crucifixions, examples
made of those who dared to defy the Pax Romana, bodies still hanging and gasping for air.
the remembrance of Israel’s uprising against Pharoah, was an occasion for Rome to ensure that Israel did not have any fantasies about recreating their history with Egypt, putting Caesar in the place of Pharaoh. The entry procession of Pilate was both deterrent
and prevention. There would be no exodus from Rome. Pilate was there to make sure of it.
the other side of town, there was a procession of a different sort. Luke paints a picture of a procession made of people throwing their cloaks in the road. At its center was a simple man from Galilee. He rode not on a majestic war horse, but on a simple donkey.
In Luke’s account, there aren’t any palm branches; there aren’t even any hosannas. Luke is ambiguous as to whether a crowd was present or just his disciples. But notably, they do shout for
in heaven. That cry does not happen in the other gospels.
you can find many accounts of the Pax Romana painted as a wholly wonderful thing- as a stable and tranquil time with only benefits for the inhabitants of the empire. But a lack of war, what some call negative peace, is not the same as the peace which passes
understanding, the pax christi, the peace of Christ. What is peace, if it is not the lack of war? It is nearly the entire base of the Jesus movement, the kingdom of heaven on earth.
is peace in today’s terms? I was looking for answers this week and discovered that over 50 years ago, Manchester University in Indiana began the first Peace Studies academic program. In the time since, over 300 universities now have Peace and Conflict studies
programs or degrees. Peace studies do not look simply at how to prevent war. Instead, they work in interdisciplinary programs that include psychology, philosophy, theology, history, political science, sociology, anthropology, literature, and linguistics–
working to collaborate between all of these disciplines while creating not just another
discipline but making something that can be applied
usefully in the world around us to create and sustain positive peace.
of those peace studies programs defines positive peace peace minimally as the presence of access to food and clean drinking water, education for women and children, security from physical harm, and other inviolable human rights— without which the lack of war
cannot be sustained.
its conditions, how to create it, and how to sustain it: it’s complicated.
kind of peace do you imagine Jesus and his disciples envisioned on that road into Jerusalem over 2000 years ago as Rome marched in with armies, through the outskirts of Jerusalem dotted with crosses hanging with the bodies of the enemies of Rome? What kind
of peace do you, do we, imagine today, as we shout hosanna and wave our palms in hope?
in their ears I wonder about the teachings of Jesus, about turning swords into plowshares, where nations will not learn war any more. And the beatitudes, where the poor, the hungry, and those who weep are lifted up; while Luke goes out of his way to give
woe to those who are rich, full, and laughing and did not wage peace.
is something else unique to Luke’s gospel. As soon as the procession turns the corner, the entry into Jerusalem continues beyond what we have read this morning. Luke has Jesus move beyond the procession on the donkey, Jerusalem comes into full view, and
Jesus weeps. He addresses Jerusalem in grief, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes!… You did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
is mixed with despair and grief. Jesus mourns, because the chosen people in the holy city of Jerusalem have lost their way towards peace, towards the kingdom of God. They have made their peace with Rome and lost sight of true peace, and cannot see God in
their midst. Then he descends into the temple and cleanses it of the money changers- a sign that Israel has co opted with empire, with the pax romana. The cleansing is an act of sedition the powers and principalities will not tolerate, and it is an act that
will cost him his life. He is willing to die this way to gain the peace that will come three days later, a peace that is offered to the world.
all lose our way towards peace. We all choose the way of Rome at some time, in some way. It is easier. It requires less imagination; less risk. How can we be more present as a part of peace?
day, and this week, the liturgy will do the work to help us to remember. We have two collects today that ask God to help us explicitly to find that peace: “Grant that we may walk in the way of the cross and find in it the way of life and peace;” and “Grant
that we may walk in the way of his suffering and also share in his resurrection.” Holy Week is our guide; it is the lens to find our peace that passes understanding walking in the way of Jesus.
this day we turn from our Hosannas to our shouts of crucify; we struggle with our hope for peace and our desire for a Pax Romana, for the use of power to get what we want that leaves others hanging. We are both the crowd that welcomes Jesus and the crowd
that calls for his crucifixion. It is a day for hope, and for despair.
is peace? How do we find it for this human family that is so ready to crucify but so hungry for a different way? How do we find it in our own lives with ourselves and others in situations when true peace seems elusive?
the way of the cross this week, and remember that we do not find it alone.
Prince of Peace has already found it for us.
The Rev. Canon Jeff Martinhauk
Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019
St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego
on the Word, Year C, Vol. 2.
Ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Louisville, Kentucky: John Knox Press, 2010.