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What’s your favourite comedy show on TV? Maybe it’s Fawlty Towers, where the eccentric Basil Fawlty attempts to manage a seaside hotel, which usually ends up in tense, rude and absurd encounters with customers and long-suffering spouses and staff. Apparently, the inspiration for Basil and Fawlty Towers came from John Cleese’s experience staying at a hotel and witnessing a hotel manager who saw customers as a hindrance, who merely got in the way of running the hotel well. Or maybe you are more into a show like The Office, which anyone who has worked in an office environment will have cringed at how the trivial conversations, misguided ego, attention seeking and bad humour can ring true. These great shows are parodies of real life and can hold up a mirror to how absurd our lives can be at times.
During the reign of the Roman Empire, every time a Roman General had a successful campaign, he would march in on his horse in triumph around Rome. In the Gospels, Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a colt. It is argued that he is engaged in his own type of parody, a bit of street theatre. A donkey is an agricultural tool, unlike the horse which is a weapon of war. For any Roman Generals watching, they would have not missed Jesus’ parody of them. Jesus isn’t surrounded by military pomp and welcomed by soldiers, he is met by ordinary people from the surrounding country, those who are downtrodden by the Roman Empire. Jesus is using this comedy sketch to make clear where real authority comes from.
Holy Week begins this Sunday with Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Which helps us focus and, at times, challenge us about where ultimate authority comes in our lives. What are our assumptions about power in our lives; those in government, in our workplaces, in our schools, churches and communities? We are asked to examine ourselves and set our eyes afresh on the fragile form of Christ, riding on a donkey, who has the power to transform our whole world and even our own lives.
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