God makes that possible.
We begin our Palm Sunday, singing Hosanna, as Jesus rides into Jerusalem, bringing hope as a compassionate king, a merciful gracious leader who cares for all people, even and especially those who find themselves on the fringes of society: the poor, the disabled, the sick, the prisoner, the homeless, the vulnerable, the alien.
Quickly, though, our readings from Matthew usher us swiftly from a triumphant entry promising a new King to Jesus — suddenly vilified, unjustly criminalized — as he is swept toward his death, even as he is declared guilty of nothing. A colleague astutely observed these were a people hungry for new leadership, actively committed to the welfare of all people. They longed for Jesus – healer, truth-teller, gatherer of all — from those in positions of authority to those on the very edges of life, those who might be deemed “non-essential,” or even disposable. They longed for Jesus just as we do.
Finding ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic is jarring, terrifying, even as we wake each day to face much that is unknown, much that is uncertain. We must find ways to not give ourselves over to the fear even as we honestly acknowledge it.
I have the privilege of working in a food ministry. Each day, when those who come (many seeking food assistance for the first time) respectfully line up according to colorful sidewalk tape that makes social distancing a little clearer, I am struck by the relief and gratitude of so many. This is important work. It is Gospel work. But, even more, it is work that casts out that creeping sense of fear. Our 12-steppers know that being of service is the secret to a happy life. It abates that very understandable fear: “What will become of me and my family as the days, weeks and months go by?”
Just for today, each of us can choose to practice compassion. One of the greatest acts of compassion is to stay home. And, if we must go out for essentials or because we work providing an essential service, let’s practice social distancing. Let’s make masks and wear them. Let’s practice compassion by doing the next right thing for the good of our communities, for the good of all people.
Acts of compassion – no matter how slight – cast out fear. Because they are rooted in God. Because they are rooted in love.
If you would like to make a gift to help our food pantry serve rapidly growing numbers of hungry people, you may do so here: St. Mary’s food pantry