Which leader would you vote for?

According to some scholars it is possible that another person also made an entry into Jerusalem on that day: Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea. Two of the key players in the drama that was to follow had arrived, one arriving no doubt in imperial splendour complete with a tame rent-a-crowd, the other in humility but with genuine acclaim.

One came triumphant with all the spectacle of a Big Man – in our time he might have arrived at high speed in a top of the market motorcar, preceded and followed by armed security, all of them blowing their sirens and flashing their blue lights.

The other arrived humbly – in our time he would be in a small eco-friendly car, driving himself, without a detail of heavily armed sun-shaded secret service agents chatting through earpieces and throat-microphones. Indeed the small car would probably be bulging with friends and colleagues. In Jesus’ case the vehicle – the donkey – was in fact borrowed for the occasion.

One arrived, no doubt, with a long and ponderous speech, prepared for him by a team of speechwriters, carefully constructed to capitalise on the occasion, to dazzle the carefully selected representatives of the ‘great and the good’ with his eloquence and to silence any doubts with a political show of force. Most newspapers, for fear of harassment through political censorship or by being bought out by a corporation friendly to the empire, simply praised the speech. Any dissident journalist who did attempt a close analysis of the speech would show that it really said nothing. Merely words put together to sound good, proving the old saying ‘If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with …”

The other had no public speech prepared. He greeted those he knew and those who wanted to know him. He came as himself. He was the speech.

One of our arrivals in Jerusalem personified the ostentation of power, designed to show off his importance. (To the canny observer, it might be seen as impotence – a mere puppet in a political power-play). The other showed the power of powerlessness, the promise of a new way of being that shrugged aside the trappings of false authority.

If they ran in an election, for whom would you vote?

Fr Anthony Egan SJ
B.A. (Hons), M.A. (UCT), B.A. (Hons) (London), M.Div., S.T.L. (Weston), Ph.D. (Wits)

Fr Anthony Egan SJ has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand, where he currently teaches at the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for Spotlight. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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