Thought for the week
WHAT are we to make of the tumultuous political changes sweeping our world at this time? With the rise to power of such populist leaders as Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, Trump in the USA, Modi in India and Duterte in the Philippines, familiar values are being called into question.
Concern for the most vulnerable in society, an internationalist approach to global justice and peace-making, hospitality towards strangers, scrupulous commitment to being truthful, care for the environment – all of these long- cherished values now appear to be in jeopardy.
Deep questions arise about the nature of power and the exercise of power.
These are not new questions. In fact, they are questions that were in the air on the first Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem amid the cheering crowds. It was a potent symbol. For Zechariah had long before declared: ‘Behold your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
Jesus’s calculated move to enter Jerusalem on a donkey showed that he identified himself with this Messianic expectation.
Even as he did so, however, he also challenged it. He made it clear that he would not be the martial hero of nationalistic expectation. He came, rather, as the Prince of Peace. Not for him the horse, which was the mount of war. He chose the donkey to carry him into Jerusalem. He brought a different kind of power – the power of humility, the power of service, the power of suffering for others, the power of justice and peace.
These are the realities of Easter. Might they be the answer to the crisis of our times?