In case you haven’t noticed, we are in the midst of an election cycle. When I was younger, I was always excited to have the opportunity to listen to party platforms and to carefully assess the policies being offered. I can honestly say that I have never once, since the time I was eligible to vote, missed marking my X on a ballot. I consider it to be my civic duty.
But lately, I am not so excited. Perhaps its because election campaigns have become so ugly and divisive. Maybe they have always been that way and I have just been too naïve to notice. Or perhaps social media has transformed civil discourse into partisan, hurtful, violent rhetoric that demeans us all. Politics has become a bruising blood sport, leaving us pitted against one another in deep and often personal ways. And have you ever noticed, the party that is swept into power on a wave of euphoria in one election cycle is often the party that is vilified and thrown out in the next, usually based on a good deal of misinformation.
What has any of this to do with Palm Sunday? Well, it seems to me that as I read yet again about the events unfolding in Jerusalem, some 2,000 years ago, it has many similarities to our modern election cycles. Notice the powerful euphoria that overtakes the citizens of Jerusalem. They are caught up in the moment of entry, when Jesus arrives. They believe him to be the Messiah, a military ruler who will take over the city and restore it to its former glory, before the arrival of the Romans. I hear that all the time in Alberta election campaigns. Vote for us and we will restore the Alberta Advantage. Vote for us and we will get those pipelines built. The euphoria of promises washes over us, just as the euphoria of the moment caused the people of Jerusalem to shout, “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
But then how quickly the euphoria of the moment turns into bitter and ugly actions that result in the death of an innocent man. The very people who shouted “Hosanna” in one breath, quickly turn into a mob screaming “Crucify him! Crucify him!” in the next. What is it about us as human beings that turns us so quickly into a mob, crying out so viciously for the blood of another human being?
It is a question as old as humanity itself. But it is important for us to ponder it carefully because Jesus, even in the midst of the euphoria and the hate hurled at him, remained steadfast in his love for the world. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.” Surely important words to ponder on this Palm Sunday and in the midst of a devisive election cycle.