Of Pride and Humility (Part 2)

Tuesday 30th March 2010
Tuesday of Holy Week
Holy Trinity, Hurstpierpoint

The most pervasive form of treachery is silence. This week we will hear the crowds shouting "Crucify him"; but they are only the people standing at the front with placards. Behind them are the serried ranks of the silent spectators, those who give force to the shouting through their very acquiescence, not necessarily frightened of violence but frightened of being in the minority or frightened of looking stupid. We are now in a minority as we walk along the High Street on Good Friday behind the cross as the tills ring; we are in a minority when we watch the re-birth of light at the Easter Vigil; but it is only human pride that leads us into fear. The humble, in proclaiming the love of Jesus, do not care whether this lowers them in the estimation of their neighbours. There is an apparent paradox in that humility because we know in our hearts that it is only a turning back to God which will bring hope to the world, which will bring the Kingdom of God to its proper, earthly reality. But humility and knowing the answer are only paradoxical if we think that it is our answer when it is God's answer, the answer which we will see re-enacted on Friday when Jesus is mocked for being the wrong kind of king. We can make no sense of this unless we remember Saint Paul's admonition that to the worldly wise the Cross is foolish; but for what have we to thank the worldly wise? As we become richer we seem to become sadder; as we become more technologically sophisticated we seem to become more brutal; as we become ever better educated, we seem to become more socially coarse. perhaps never have the material temptations been greater but perhaps, too, never have the shortcomings of materialism been more obvious, not in its narrow sense, measured by the goods we own, but in the broader sense of our culture's obsession with self gratification. Whether it is in the Sudan or Sheffield, we see terrible poverty and degradation coexisting with our comfort; and the great tragedy is not that they do coexist but that they can co-exist so chronically. As we see Jesus on the Cross we see him again suffering the horror and sorrow of the world we have tarnished. And as we look we say to ourselves: "I have paid my taxes honestly; and I have put money in the envelope; and I have signed the petition"; but have I spoken out when the crowd has become ugly? Have I taken a stand when the majority have been against me? Have I risked anything for this Jesus going to the Cross? And do I really know if I am following him or taking him there?