Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Sat, March 27, 2010
[ Palm/Passion Sunday in the Christian Kalendar ]
It is ourselves that we must spread under Christ's feet, not coats
or lifeless branches or shoots of trees, matter which wastes away
and delights the eye only for a few brief hours. But we have clothed
ourselves with Christ's grace, with the whole Christ - "for as many of
you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" - so let us spread
ourselves like coats under his feet.
-Andrew of Crete (c.650-712, 726,or 740)
Today is Palm Sunday. Christians will be familiar with the Scripture for this Liturgy. I would venture to say that every religion must understand and be immersed in Andrew of Crete’s point if the religion or “Faith” is to have any meaning or any power in individual lives or in the life of the human community.
Liturgy, the practice of religion, meditation, etc: all these rituals and practices are simply entertainment; diverting, but ultimately useless, unless what Andrew of Crete illuminates happens in the lives of adherents. Our lives must merge with the Divine and be manifestations of God and of God’s sacred Presence in the World.
All ritual and liturgy is meant to be transformative, not just informative. The palms and the coats that people strewed in front of Jesus – whom they hoped might be their Messiah – are symbols of us, of our humanity, symbols of a humanity that must become merged with the Source of all Life to achieve its highest nature. The Christ prays fervently for this in John’s Gospel.
This week is filled with sorrow. Jesus is arrested, mistreated, takes leave of dear friends, wrestles with His relationship with His heavenly father, is betrayed, humiliated, endures His mother’s deep sorrow, is cruelly put to death, and buried, abandoned by His followers. We sorrow with Him – and in deep sorrow God is often found.
If we find God in the very core of our nature and being, then the next essential step is critical. Caryll Houselander (1901-54) puts it this way: His burial, which seemed to be the end, was the beginning. It was the beginning of Christ’s life in multitudes of souls …. [and} the renewal of Christ’s life in countless souls” ….. including ours.
If we willingly cast our palms, our coats today, we “put Christ on”. Now we go forth to be as Christ in the World, by becoming our most whole, compassionate selves.