Monday, April 14, 2014

Palm Sunday and the Ghost of Tom Joad

My knowledge and understanding of Palm Sunday is limited. I didn't grow up in the Christian Tradition but am sure most of my values have been shaped by it. I know that Palm Sunday represents the coming of Jesus into Jerusalem (On a donkey) and the people recognizing and honoring him by covering the path with palm fronds as he made his way to the temple.
Christian Churches throughout the world celebrate this day by replicating the journey and marching in the street. It has become a symbolic day of peace and justice.
I am curious about what this day and the marches represent and I have to admit I take most of my expectations from Pop Culture's expressions of faith that resonate with me and then try to marry them with what I find in the sphere of the church. On an occasion like this, and most others, nothing speaks so clearly to me as the Lyrics of Bruce Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad".

...Now Tom said "Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight against the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me mom I'll be there
Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand
Or a decent job or a helpin' hand
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me." ...



Henry Fonda as Tom Joad - Grapes of Wrath film from the book by John Steinbeck



And Jesus said something like:
...'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'...







And with this in mind I see why we march on Palm Sundays, Christians and even non Christians together! Why do we march on Palm Sunday? It's to welcome Jesus into the city (Governed by men) and into the Temple (In the Christian view, his rightful place) and who is Christ today? Well according to my understanding of the message, and if as Christians believe he is the Son of Man and God, then he is within the least and the greatest of us, and as such we should welcome him when he comes.


Palm Sunday march in Melbourne

So on Palm Sunday around the world we see marches and rallies for the oppressed people of the world and particularly those amongst us. Right now the gates of the city (Australia) are closed to people just as Jesus described. As a country whose foundation of law is based on Christian Ethos it is fair to expect that this very special Christian Holy Day would be used to express the will of Jesus the ' Messiah'.

Supporters meet with asylum seekers at a Darwin Detention Centre


There are currently 1,000s of people locked up in Australian internment camps in the pacific, Christmas Island and mainland Australia. We call these places Immigration Detention Centers and they are designed to punish and demoralize. They do this very effectively and extend punishment to children and nursing mothers. Where is Jesus in this? If our political leaders who claim Christian faith celebrate Palm Sunday then who do they think they are locking out? The very spirit of the words of Jesus himself answer that question very clearly. They are locking Christ out of the Temple! As an observer and one who is hopeful for the Christian faith I'd say they are against Christ! 


Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, PM Tony Abbot (Photo - Courier Mail)







Today in Darwin there will be no Palm Sunday Justice Rallies. Being a Christian Event many justice advocates were waiting for representatives of the church to take the lead and we had hoped that we could join them in good faith and prayerfully ask for peace, mercy and justice for our brothers and sisters who are currently living in absolutely intolerable circumstances at the hands of the Australian Government. This has made me wonder very deeply about the commitment of Christians in this town to truly embrace the very special meaning of their Holy Day.
 

I wonder if next year rather than waiting for a Christian Church to organize this event people of Darwin who hope for justice and believe the core message that Jesus brought might just organize the rally ourselves and bring it to the major Churches in Darwin. Ask them face to face who they think they would see if they could look in the face of any of the stateless souls our country has condemned to a life in limbo!


 




 


Like I said there's a lot I don't know or understand about Christianity but I'm sure some of it's essence permeates the writing of Bruce Springsteen , Woody Guthrie and the author John Steinbeck.





Shalom!

2 comments:

Chandra said...

Hi Peter,
Religion is not a cure for hypocrites, eh?
Nice post mate.
Peace :)

David J said...

Well,
We all fall short some times and this was quite disappointing but I was hoping on that particular day they would pick up the baton considering how hard many of us have been campaigning every other day of the year.