Date: 20190414 Palm Sunday
Topic: Lectio Divina
Speaker: Pastor Jason Ho
Passage: Matthew 7:7-11
Summarized by: Hilda
Today is Palm Sunday. There are two parades in front of us, which were also the two parades in front of the Christians and Jews in their times: the parade of hegemonism and the parade of God’s Kingdom. Which parade shall we join?
The passage in Mark 11:1-11 is often recited on Palm Sunday. People welcomed Jesus in His own language by shouting “Hosanna!” which means “rescue” and “redemption”. People at that time expected Jesus to build their country by force and believed that Jesus would come to save them again. The Christians of the first century perceived Jesus with the passage in Zechariah 9:9-10. The words “your king”, “righteousness” and “peace” also show that these Christians who knew the Jewish traditions well expected that Jesus would rise and lead the people out of the hegemony (the Roman Empire).
After Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Roman Empire in 63 BCE, the Roman generals and emperors often entered Jerusalem to parade around their colonies. For example, in the year of Jesus’s crucifixion (30 CE), Pilate, the Prefect of Judaea at that time, rode into Jerusalem on horseback during the Passover. When they entered the city, they showed off their financial resources and status by riding horses and showing off their gold and silver ornaments. This was the hegemonic parade of the Roman Empire at that time. The Roman Empire attacked other territories with its military power, cracked down rebellions and suppressed its people by force. It emphasized imperial worship; imposing heavy taxes on the colonies and ruled by law to oppress its people.
On the contrary, the path towards the kingdom of God is non-military. It is not ruled by law and not hegemonic. Jesus walked as an equal alongside people who were considered unclean and the disadvantaged. Jesus stood up for justice and deliberately entered the city in a way different from that of the Roman emperor. He did not have gold and silver ornaments, nor did he ride a horse, and he entered the city from the opposite direction. After Jesus entered Jerusalem via the Golden Gate, the hegemony on earth showed in different ways that they did not welcome the second coming of Jesus. For example, they shut and sealed the Golden Gate and placed graves in front of it (dead bodies were considered unclean in Jewish tradition).
However, today’s Israel also treats Palestine in an unjust way and separates them by walls. How do we achieve justice and peace on earth? As in Micah 3:1-2, do we want a society of hegemony, oppression, and injustice, or a society of equality and justice in present-day Hong Kong? As we have seen recently, those who stand up for peace and justice are facing injustice, just as Jesus entered the city to fight against the political power and faced unjust trial.
Today’s spiritual practice, Lectio Divina, consists of 4 steps: 1. Lectio (Read) 2. Meditatio (Meditate) 3. Oratio (Pray) 4. Contemplatio (Contemplate). Today we shall learn Lectio first. Apart from reading Bible, we can also read passages from pastoral writings or letters. One of the Lectio methods is group lectio. Through group lectio, let yourself and your peers focus more on your inner self and experience Christ’s calling to take action. Each reading group consists of 3 persons. Read the Bible passage three times. Every time you read, the focus is different. When you read it the first time, you understand the passage, and ruminate on the words that move you. When you read it the second time, you focus on your inner self, and contemplate how the passage responds to your life today. When you read it the third time, try to ask yourself what actions you can take to respond to what Christ speaks to you through the passage from the Bible.