Palm/Passion Sunday – Year B: Mark 11 verses 1-11
Most people will have seen Mel Gibson’s rousing (and historically illiterate) movie, Braveheart. In the film, William Wallace attempts to unite the feuding factions in Scotland in their fight against England in the 13th century. In doing so, he tries to elicit the help of Robert the Bruce.
Bruce refuses to help and in soliloquy he says: “Wallace is an uncompromising man. Uncompromising men are admirable. But only a compromising man can be king.”
We can affirm that on Palm Sunday an uncompromising man became King of all history.
There may be times when we have to be flexible. On strategies, we can compromise, but not in principles.
There must come a time when we ask: Is this the way it is–Yes or No? Palm Sunday challenges the notion that all of life is but a part of the compromising process.
There once was an English priest called Charlie Andrews who became a friend of Gandhi in India.
Andrews worked and lived with the Indian Nationalists. The Government, however, also used him as an intermediary to explain positions and decisions.
Most British people in India misunderstood him, because they thought that he was a traitor to Britain. Many also said that he had compromised his Christian faith.
He was reviled and slandered, even although he wrote books with titles like ‘What I owe to Christ’
Andrews was really, truly, and sincerely, a man of God and a committed Christian.
He followed the way of the Cross in more ways than patiently bearing lies, insults, and abuse from the British in India. He also lived a most spartan life in primitive village conditions, and lived tirelessly for other people. Nobody in any kind of need was outside his concern.
During Gandhi’s illness, Charlie Andrews was constantly with him, and the press reported that he would sing Ghandi’s favourite hymn to him – ‘When I survey the wondrous Cross’
Charlie Andrews never counted the cost to himself of anything he did. That is the true mark of the loyal follower of Jesus Christ, who himself gave up his life for many. Jesus Christ came to serve humankind, regardless of the criticism, condemnation, and misrepresentation. He never compromised his message or his mission.
Nor did Charlie Andrews, nor have countless other followers of Christ in all centuries since Jesus uncompromisingly started to bring the Kingdom of God into the lives of men and women everywhere.
On Palm Sunday, the crowd cheered Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. Later that week, the acclamation turned to condemnation, as they bayed for his blood with their cries of ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’
These people just could not follow Jesus all the way through. For, when he became unpopular because of his uncompromising stand, they abandoned him.
Is our faith like that? Are we fair-weather Christians, ready to drop principles or compromise our beliefs when the going gets tough, our position threatened, or our personal comfort disturbed?
On the other hand, are we like Charlie Andrews and his kind whose faith never wavered? A man who stuck to his principles. A true disciple of his Lord and Master who, undoubtedly, took these words of Jesus to heart:
‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’