One of the controversies of this current campaign season was the kerfuffle between Donald Trump and Pope Francis. When the pope visited Mexico, Trump called him “a very political person” who is a pawn of the Mexican government.
The Pope’s response? “Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ So at least I am a human person.”As to being a pawn: “Well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people.”
I wonder what said candidate will make of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem this Palm Sunday (if he even knows what that is or will be in attendance at a church that observes it). Probably that it wasn’t a political act at all. Or that Jesus was a pawn of the political left of his day (although a Christian of the more conservative persuasion might say Jesus was acting as a pawn of God; but we won’t go there).
I believe that the parade into Jerusalem was definitely a political act. For a rationale for that far smarter and more articulate that I, read The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan (not that Jesus rode in on a dinosaur, but after observing “An Evolutionary Lent,” I couldn’t help myself.)
So this Palm Sunday, I’m wondering how being a follower of the Jesus parade – as opposed to the parade of empire – can affect our wacky political process. I’ve been reading about how labor unions, recognizing the fear and anger among many of their members, are now stepping up efforts to communicate how some candidates are really not representing their best interests.
How are we on the religious left communicating to Christians of all political parties the same kind of information? Will those who are angry and fearful hear us? Maybe not. Especially when we’re called socialist pawns or similar aspersions. Still, if we truly do believe, like Francis, that we are ‘animals politicus,’ then Palm Sunday is our rallying call to action.
And instead of our usual desultory processions into church, self-consciously waving little palm branches, how about we . . .
- march on in like we’re in a real parade?
- shout our hosannas like we really mean it?
- unapologetically take the Palm Sunday (r)evolutionary spirit into our political arena?