Palm Sunday: Community, Not Chaos

Palm Sunday: Community, Not Chaos

BY FR. GREG BOYLE, S.J. | April 2, 2023
Today’s Readings

I was in an aisle seat, flying home from Philadelphia to Los Angeles with two homies. People are boarding, and I spot a tall man wearing a T-shirt. I try to make out what it says: “Philly IS Everybody.” I’m heartened. I think, “Wow…kinship, connection, exquisite mutuality. A community of cherished belonging.” As he gets closer, I can see the shirt actually says: “Philly VS Everybody.” Shoot. We were so close.

Two parades. Pilate and the show of military power and force, heading to Jerusalem from the west. And Jesus, on a small donkey, humbly entering the city from the east. Jesus’ trek displays a way of life whose hallmarks are inclusion, non-violence, unconditional loving-kindness, and compassionate acceptance. The parade of war horses announces the threat of violent force, coercion, and oppression of the poor.

Palm Sunday: Community, Not Chaos

Image: Eddie Ruvalcaba – Homeboy Industries.

The triumphant entrance of Jesus is not an indictment, but an invitation. Jesus doesn’t draw lines. He erases them. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last book was called, ”Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community?” We find our way out of chaos and its dispiriting tribalism by standing against forgetting that we belong to each other. At Homeboy Industries, rival gang members who used to shoot at each other trade in hostility for a cherishing lens that hopes to see as God does. It creates a “tribe” of cherished belonging that hopes to end “tribalism” itself. It humbly seeks to be the front porch of the house everyone wants to live in. Community, not chaos.

Homegirl Pooka says that “Love is our lens. It is how we see things.” So, we don’t “love our enemies.” We decide not to have any. Two parades. Nobody VS anybody. An invitation to see with a different lens.

For Reflection

  • Where do you see parades of loving-kindness and parades of war in our world today?
  • How can you change the lens through which you see to one of cherishing and love?
8 replies
  1. Ann Marie Martin
    Ann Marie Martin says:

    This is so helpful. I can find my way out of resentment and the hard heart with which I see so many people. Lens of love. Got to put on my love glasses every day.

  2. Anthony Keefe
    Anthony Keefe says:

    Excuse my British ignorance, but what on earth are “homies”, and who is Homegirl Pooka? It seems to be the story of “two nations divided by a common language”. 😅

    • Robert Manning
      Robert Manning says:

      Checkout Fr Boyle’s program – Homeboy Industries – as noted in the brief bio:
      Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world.

  3. Greg Immethun
    Greg Immethun says:

    Such a great idea. Lay down our “tribe” for unity and acceptance of all. As a person raised in the punitive justice, shame driven system of traditional Catholicism, I find this very challenging. My upbringing told me not to trust anybody but my tribe, that the “other” was inferior and not to be trusted. And because of this guilt driven method to correction and being holy, I do not even believe in myself, down deep. Shame is my basic addiction. I do not think of myself as good, loving creation of God who can justifiably cry out Abba, Father. This seems to me to be the main problem behind getting people to drop the intense tribal mindset that is so prevalent today. It is not easy or fast, but it is possible if I work at it, which I do, with prayer and thanksgiving, everyday. If our church would acknowledge this is true of its own history, and then work to expose it and talk about it, then the church could become a beacon for helping us release this shame based righteousness and adopt the much more effective belief that I am basically good. As Thomas Keating’s prayer says: “The acceptance of basic goodness is a quantum leap in the spiritual journey.”
    This is a huge leap in faith for the church, but the times are ripe for it. I think it would bring a renaisance in Catholicism. We need true spiritual leadership so badly right now.

  4. sonja
    sonja says:

    Love and community I see epitomised in the Ukrainians who are returning from western Europe to live in Ukraine, despite the war, because of the sense of belonging and community that reigns there in most of the country and is not present in our western materialistic egoistic society.


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