Sunday, March 20, 2016

The voice of the people

Each year on this Sunday we read the story of the passion from one of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke). Our tendency is to run them all together and to loose the unique way in which each tells the story. This year we read St. Luke. And perhaps one of the best things we can all do this week is spend some real time re-reading chapters 22 and 23 of St. Luke's gospel.

As I was praying with this gospel this weekend one word keep jumping out at me, "laos" (people). As Americans we love the phrase "We, the people" and yet St. Luke turns the notion on its head. When neither Pilate nor Herod can find Jesus guilty of any crime, it is "the people" who insist on his crucifixion.  It is "the people" who march him out to the place of his crucifixion and watch an innocent man die.

There are those who like to quote the saying "vox populi, vox dei" (the voice of the people is the voice of God). Perhaps they need to recall the full sentence from which it is taken.

"And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness"

While most of us  can agree that ours is the best form of government human beings have yet to devise, St. Luke's Passion calls us to a sobering reflection on the limitations of "the people."  In the New Testament there are "the people" and those who are "called apart" (ekklesia), the Church. This week above all weeks we called apart to reflect on what makes us as Christians different, unique, even when that uniqueness will cause us suffering.