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April is the cruellest month

  • 07 April 2022
  Palm Sunday alternates between March and April. When, as this year, it is celebrated in April it keeps company with a number of days that provoke us to ask what and who matter, what and whom can you trust. If it is a cruel month, it is so because it tests, even mocks, our comfortable assumptions. In a year overshadowed by manifestations of climate change, of persistence of Covid and of the horrors of war, it is not a bad month to endure an election.

April begins with April Fools Day, when the wise person lays aside all the opinions about predictability and reliability that counted for wisdom and becomes a sceptic for the day. It is designed to trap those who believe that their own world and place in it are solid and unshakeable.

The Christian feasts during April cut deeper, entering at two levels into the lethal world of power and security. At one level they describe what God is doing; at another level they describe what human beings are doing. The Son of God enters Jerusalem, the heart of the people whom he has chosen, in order to win and to heal them. Jesus, an undefended human being, enters the city only to be rejected and ejected both from city and life.  The week from Palm Sunday to Good Friday is a reflection on God’s hospitality and human inhospitality. On Easter Sunday God’s hospitality wins at a heavy cost.

On Palm Sunday Jesus enters Jerusalem with the trappings of royal power – not walking but riding, and attended by people waving branches and singing. The trappings, however, were a mockery and critique of the way power is exercised in human affairs. Jesus had only a few followers. They were unarmed. And he came, not on a horse but on an ass, a domestic animal on which any rider looks ridiculous. It was a comic scene. He came to the seat of power as a simple human being, relying on the truth of his words and on God whom he represented. The authorities perceived both his lack of power and his insolence and had him killed on Good Friday in a way designed systematically to erase all traces of his humanity. Yet in the event Jesus’ rising from death showed God’s way of accepting humiliation to be powerful and life giving in contrast to the futility and falseness of the way