Deadly celebrations

30 Mar

In Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish occupied homeland, large crowds would have gathered for the celebration of the feast of Passover. In general, but especially during occasions like this, the Jewish leaders were co-operative with the occupying Romans in order to keep the peace and perhaps even more to retain their tenuous position of authority in the area. The Romans were indulgent of many different religions including the Jewish, and of their various practices such as these gatherings of festive crowds and the processions, but they were always wary of the potential threat to authority. Many in this Jewish crowd believed at that time that their God would restore the sovereignty of the land to them in the near future, and maybe even bring to its fulfilment the glory for their race and their Jewish religion.

Many of those gathered who hoped for this reclamation of their land and even expected the climax of their destiny, were seriously considering Jesus as a potential leader in this fulfilment. They were impressed by his speeches and enthusiasm, believing that he might be their liberator and saviour. They would have been encouraged also by his miraculous powers. According to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke he had recently, almost violently, demonstrated his opposition to ‘monetary’ transactions conducted within the temple. But according to John’s gospel he had recently demonstrated even death-defying power at a location just outside of the capital (the raisin of Lazarus). Consequently there was serious expectation by many that Jesus would lead them not only to freedom from Rome, but to an apocalyptic and complete fulfilment of their destiny – Deadly celebrations – and of this the authorities were aware. It was especially this attitude of the crowds that led the Romans and Jewish leaders to the decision to eliminate this man, Jesus. What we might now see as a misunderstanding of his message arose from their selfish and this-worldly hopes expressed in their celebrations at this time, which in turn led to his arrest, trial and public execution – public for all to see that he was not their freedom fighter, liberator or saviour.

Now with this in mind and particularly at this time I must carefully consider my own beliefs and hopes as a Catholic and a Christian. I must reflect on my attitude to many of the aspects of Christianity, on the numerous and specifically Christian doctrines, on my attitude to leaders in the church and concerning the many ‘miraculous’ happenings that they might promote and I so readily accept, and may even rejoice in. These reflections and this re-consideration must also affect my attitude to people of other religions and of none, who have their own standards of living in acceptable and civilised ways as much as I do. I must try to avoid my celebrations being the death of the beautiful and all-embracing love that Christ wants of me.

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