This morning and all of Holy Week demand that we own our roles – both in these specific stories where we may play devoted disciple and betrayer – but also in this time and place. Here, now, we must admit that we desire peace while we allow violence to rage around us. We dismiss homicide because the victims were known to police. We accept the gang violence in our neighbourhoods as sad, but unavoidable as long as it continues to be carried out by good marksmen and no innocent bystanders are hurt. We mind our own business while down the street a woman cowers away from a violent husband and father. When we condemn first-person shooter video games with increased reality, we are met with arguments about creative expression and benefits of safe environments to enjoy fantasy. We say “kids can be cruel” when they drive each other to suicide. The violence in and around us is pervasive. Because we simply can not confront all of it we are always bystanders to some of it. We are partakers of a culture, a society, a world that accepts, uses, and even thrives on violence.
As we walk the pilgrimage of Holy Week – gathering for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter morning, we are invited to acknowledge and take responsibility for our part in accepting and making the violence which surrounds us. Alone none of us can eliminate it, but together, we can yearn for a better way, a way which Jesus himself invites us into. And we can begin to live as if Jesus is our King, and his kingdom is already present. We can believe in a Love stronger than the hate, the anger, the mistrust, the fear. We can meet violence with patience and kindness. We can be Simon of Cyrene, taking up the cross for one another. We can be partakers of God’s kingdom. We can receive and share God’s unconditional love within our own hearts, within this community gathered here, and within the wider communities where we find ourselves each day. We may not ride on donkeys. We may not face crucifixion. And yet may we find as we walk the pilgrimage’s journey towards the cross and towards the Resurrection the signs of God’s unending presence – the hope of the hopeless, a light in the darkness, gentleness in the midst of violence. And may we be those signs for all whom we meet.