Palm Sunday marchers carry coffins as part of their procession for peace in Des Moines.Photo: AFSC / Catholic Peace Ministry
By Kathleen McQuillen, AFSC Iowa Program Coordinator
Overcoming Fear-Embracing Peace was the theme of the 9th annual Palm Sunday peace procession organized by the Des Moines Area Ecumenical Committee for Peace. The procession from the Iowa Capitol to St. Paul’s Episcopal cathedral commemorates Jesus’ march into Jerusalem; reminding us that the first Palm Sunday march was intended as a challenge to the military, civic, and religious powers.
Jesus led the peasant procession into Jerusalem from atop a donkey while the Roman Legions in full regalia, mounted on magnificent military horses entered the city from another side. The Roman occupying forces, led by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, were there to keep the Jewish observance of Passover (celebration of an earlier liberation) from becoming an anti-occupation demonstration.
Reenacting this march is an opportunity for all of us to wrestle with the meaning of Jesus’ challenge. Rev. Robert Cook in his comments at St. Paul, noted that Jesus was crucified for his challenges to authority but he left with his followers these words: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you... Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’
Rev. Cook presented his own challenge to the audience, “Jesus directed us not to be afraid so I ask you --What then are you willing to risk for peace? Jesus risked it all.”
It is a question worthy of an answer from each of us. What am I willing to risk for peace?
My life? My income? My position? My freedom? My family?
How far will I go “for peace?”
It’s a question to which I do not yet have an answer – but I hope I find the answer always in the next step.
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