Higher Laws (Passion/Palm Sunday)

Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: “Blessed is he who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places!” Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” But Jesus said, “If they keep quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise”. (Luke 19: 37 – 40)

The difference between the good guys and the bad guys always seemed pretty apparent to Raphael. He had fought in both Iraq wars, where the bad guys were the enemy, the people he was supposed to search out and neutralise. After he finished his last hour of duty, he joined his local police force, where the bad guys were the criminals he was supposed to capture. Then his kid brother Hector got arrested for riding around with some friends in a stolen car.

Was his brother a criminal? According to Raphael’s definition he was. He was convicted of being an accessory and went to jail. But Raphael knew his brother wasn’t a bad guy. He had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. Yet the case against him was legitimate and justice was served.

Somehow Raphael was going to have to change his thinking. He knew from experience that people who were enemies and criminals were also human beings, brothers and fathers and sons, sisters, mothers, and daughters who ended up on the wrong side of justice. One astonishing truth about the crucifixion of Jesus was that he was arrested for breaking the law, found guilty of a capital crime, and put to death. Was he a criminal? Was he a bad guy? Or did his death and Resurrection challenge us to reconsider the whole question of good and bad?

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