by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, March 20, 2016
Cheers and applause have a brief shelf life. Acclaim and adulation can fade pretty fast. Certainly, that was the experience of Jesus not long after he rode into Jerusalem, mobbed by an enthusiastic crowd. In that Palm Sunday moment, with “Hosanna!” resounding from the throats of thousands, it might have seemed that success and fortune, prestige and power were guaranteed. That from that moment on, Jesus would be carried forward on a wave of unceasing popularity.
Yet as we enter into Holy Week, we know how this story moves forward. How fickle and temporary the praise of the crowd. How swiftly “Hosanna!” turns into “Crucify him!” How easily the crowd dwindles into the few followers, most of them women, whose love impels them to stand, to stay, to accompany Jesus when everyone else flees and deserts the scene.
Today is an invitation to reflect on a theology of remaining and accompaniment. To sit with the witness of the holy ones who consoled and empowered Jesus on his journey toward the cross, as well as the contemporary holy ones who continue to stand with, stay with, and accompany Jesus in the crucified peoples of our world today.
Who are the people, living or deceased, who have made a difference in your life by standing and staying with you through the years? Who has believed in you even when you couldn’t believe in your own goodness or beauty or worth? Who has made a difference by their refusal to abandon you even in, and especially in, times of brokenness, failure, or shame?
“The Charles Schulz Philosophy” often appears online. It’s attributed to the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, although its author is uncertain. Its origin is not the point. The point is this: on Palm Sunday, this quiz provides a telling glimpse into the fleeting nature of fame and praise and the lasting impact of those who love us, care for us, and remain with us.
Try to answer the following questions and see how you do:
1. Name the 5 wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name 5 Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last 5 winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
Not surprisingly, few of us remember all the headliners, celebrities, and newsmakers of the past, even though they may have been the best in their fields and seemed unforgettable in their time. But applause dies down. Trophies tarnish. Achievements are soon forgotten.
What we do remember—and much more easily—are the names of people who have made a difference and accompanied us throughout our lives.
Try answering the questions in this next quiz and see how you do:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey in school.
2. Name 3 friends who helped you through a difficult time.
3. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
Notice the difference? The people who have been our “Hosanna Squad,” who have encouraged, and supported, and stood with us through both the peaks of praise and the valleys of failure or brokenness or shame, these are the ones we remember. Those who remain, who stand with, stay with, and accompany us, make all the difference each day of our lives: whether it’s Palm Sunday, the journey into Holy Week, or the Easter season of rising into newness.
Pray a prayer of gratitude to God whose love for you endures and never changes.
Then reflect on the people who have accompanied you, supported you, assisted you at significant times in your life.
When have you been that kind of person for others?
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