When Spirit and human nature collide in the spaces of encounter in our Caribbean civilisation, a common exclamation is: “Buh look at meh crosses nuh!”
Whatever the language of engagement in the particular community, this theo-cultural expression reveals a willingness to pause, assess the situation and measure the occurrence against the experience, understanding and interpretation of how the ‘collision’ may test the person and how one may emerge the better for it.
A reading of the gospel narrative on this Palm Sunday leads to an assessment of how the 40 days of Lenten rituals of ‘Pray, Fast, Give’ and ‘Reflection, Renewal, Preparation’ may support personal and communal transformation, trusting the One who frees us to lead us to victory, if only we would believe and co-operate.
The exclamation acknowledges the reality of the present experience yet suggests denial of the testing. From high to low places where we are led, controlled, or managed by people of influence, power and provision, trickery and deception are often the paths chosen for personal gain or political patronage.
We fall so easily, so often, even though we know the deceivers! Perhaps we trick ourselves, despite the fasting and reflection; that the abstinence and almsgiving were just superficial, obligatory, without real heartiness?
Have we really emptied ourselves or are we still susceptible to temptations of vain glory, honour, admiration, or unadulterated sensual pleasure? At what cost? A few pieces of silver are valueless when the dependability and evidence of a truly rich life is sacrificed for pandering to weak deceivers, conspiracy theorists, doubters, who are themselves grasping for affirmation.
The question of faithfulness against faithlessness arises here. Who do you follow? What causes do you identify with and stay awake for? Courage is needed to stand up, speak out and engage with issues which affect your life – personal and communal.
Your choices affect everyone in or around your social construct, whether one, two, many, parish, nation, or region. Your decisions, in cohort with like-minded persons affect and change minds and hearts much further than you may dare to believe!
Consider current issues of conversations for effect and media maelstroms of salacious interest in what essentially are ‘family’ issues of values and perceptions.
What are the policy positions and intellectual validity of a commonwealth of meaning, integrity, judgement– matters not only for ‘royals’, commissions and diocesan tribunals?
Believers pursuing the robustness of a faith-filled life must also work on promoting development, democracy and peace, a mission proclaimed by the Commonwealth Magna Carta.
Public image management is best informed by private family ‘panchayats’, alternative dispute resolution opportunities and in everything, respect for the human person.
Such matters of the monarchy, man/woman in the street or minister require each person and community of ‘believers’ to be continuously re-immersed in a baptism of dying to the deadly sins of pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust.
They may then rise to renewed life of humility, genuine admiration, forgiveness, zeal for mission and service, generosity, a healthy asceticism and chastity of intent and action. Faithful friends do help to carry our crosses.
None of this is for the faint-hearted! Power structures, ideologies of discrimination and inequalities, sinfulness by nature and any such frailties of the human person can only be conquered by the love, mercy, and grace of the Christ who, anointed for the task, offered His sacrifice for our redemption, and gives us hope to overcome and rise above the desire for adulation and affirmation.
We will be tested, resisted, accused, deceived, abandoned. But our crosses also yield evidence of love in the midst of adversity, light on the way to accepting, overcoming, striving, thriving in our relationships with self, family, neighbour, and community.
Let us guard our connectedness so we can face judgement by our King and Lord, shouting honest ‘Hosannas’, laying palms of welcome to He who comes, by invitation, on our path with our crosses.