Today marks the longest Sunday Gospel of the liturgical year. Pages upon pages, books upon books, even libraries upon libraries have been written about this portion of Sacred Scripture. Of course we have our hero, Lord, King, Savior, and God receive the worst treatment a human person can receive. His Blessed Mother, our Queen, suffers beside him. We witness the slaughter of the righteous, and come face to face with our predilections to scapegoat, betray, insult, and perhaps even do violence to our fellow man. It further reminds us of our predilections to patience, mercy, kindness, fortitude, and compassion. The story of Palm Sunday, is the story of every human’s choice between vice, and virtue. It is most notable in the virtue of Christ to take upon the Cross in mercy, courage, and love compared to the fickle crowd, the fearful Pilate, and the betraying Judas. There are, however, more subtle examples of this in the drama of the Passion.
Joseph of Arimathea appears at the end of the story today. He is a member of the Sandhedrin, and a follower of Christ. He did NOT take part in the conspiracy against Our Blessed Lord. He did NOT succumb to the peer pressure to sacrifice one man’s life for the sake of the nation. He believed in Jesus, and he believed in justice. Thus, at the risk of social, or even violent retaliation, he did not follow along in the outrage against Christ. He exercised courage in the face of fearful clerics, and a fearful mob.
It would be a safe assumption that Joseph wanted to prevent the injustice inflicted upon the Son of God. Here is where he once again demonstrates virtue. He knew, out of prudence, there was nothing in his power he could do to prevent this injustice. He knew he could not change the minds of those who refuse to change. He knew he could not raise an army to resist the Roman occupiers. Either attempt would have been foolhardy. However, he also knew there was another matter of justice he could exercise. He could donate his property, and bury the Sacred Body of the Christ. This ensured the religious custom would be respected, and the dear Mother of Jesus would be spared all expenses.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, there may be times when those with power will set out to inflict an injustice, and they will often times have the backing of a fickle crowd. You may have no way of stopping that force. Worry not, and feel guilty not for this. Look to St. Joseph of Arimathea in these times. Choose against participating in such evil, even at the risk of losing social, or financial status. Choose to be courageous, and walk away, or resign. Then, when the injustice is inflicted, look to what you can do as an act of mercy. Joseph did not bring Christ back from dead. He could not give back to Mary the Son she lost. But he could give her son a proper burial. I very much believe that burial, that generosity, that exercise in virtue brought great comfort to the Mother of Jesus. So can you bring some comfort amidst some injustice. So can you bring the light of Christ on the darkest days. So can you enkindle in others the hope Christ offers.
Be prudent. Be not afraid. Be saints like the man from Arimatehea.
Amen. Gloria Deo.