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Palm Sunday Peace Rally 25 March 2018 There have long been such ‘Limbo places’ on earth – and

one of
them was Palestine in the time of Jesus. The Galilee where he
Theme: ‘Out of Limbo’ grew up was seen as ‘hostile territory’ by those in power from
Jerusalem to Antioch to Philippi and Rome itself. Displaced from
the land of their ancestors by an armed Intervention, Galileans
kept fighting back – and kept carpenters busy making the
‘Refugees’: the word dominates the news. The reality dominates crosses that lined the roads of Galilee.
the world. International law is meant to protect those seeking
‘asylum’, who have run from ‘a well-founded fear of Like refugees in our time, they faced the genocide of culture,
persecution’. But what law can help when the number of those law, and language; but the bureaucrats in both Jerusalem and
on the run outweighs the whole population of countries like Rome paid no attention. Galileans were caught between
Australia? And what will happen as climate change, and the heaven and hell, found guilty of no sin yet receiving no justice.
wars for scarce resources that could generate, sends whole
populations seeking ‘asylum’ as their lands are drowned by Jesus was one of them. So when he led a huge mob of shouting
water or blood? Galileans into the heart of the fortified city, both the Roman
garrison and their local collaborators knew the threat they were
International law says nothing about another kind of refugees: facing.
those ‘internally displaced’ within national borders – evicted
from stolen land, barred from access to the sacred places of their Jesus found a horse never ridden, and it carried him through the
ancestors, faced with the genocide of culture, law, and language. gates like a king from ancient ages. That’s what the people
When you add the numbers of those ‘internal refugees’ in India, wanted too: an end to their Limbo under Roman control. They
the Americas, Australia – there may be more world citizens roared their approval until the stones echoed the cry.
outside their homelands than safely settled ‘nationals’ on land
they own in law. Those ancient kings rode proudly to the royal palace – but that’s
not where Jesus went. He wasted no time on Herod, who was
The old theology of ‘Limbo’ helps describe their situation: lost and only a puppet of the Roman masters. Jesus did not storm the
forgotten, caught between heaven and hell, found guilty of no soldiers’ barracks even though the crowds would have protected
sin yet receiving no justice. It was a place of the dead who him.
would never face judgement, never have their day in court.
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The Galilean, instead, rode straight to the Temple. It was as Today is a ‘Peace March’; but true peace can never be founded
though Jesus was claiming a higher authority than either on barriers to keep people out. True peace can never rest on
national or international law. Jesus seemed to understand that fear and brutality to intimidate the vulnerable. Jesus spoke that
the way out of limbo is not by changing laws, or those who make truth to the powers of his day – and ended up crucified: because
them, or the bureaucrats who enforce them, or even the armed telling the truth made him ‘an enemy of Rome’.
forces who apply them with typically ruthless Roman efficiency.
And if we dare to speak truth to the powers of our day – speak
The way out of limbo rests on something much deeper: a of the Limbo for boat people and Indigenous people, those on
recognition that no place on earth, not even the most sacred; no temporary visas and those in hordes beyond our borders whose
boundaries on the planet, no matter how strong; no creed or Limbo seems eternal – today’s powers may not listen any more
loyalty code, however we enforce it: nothing outweighs the than Jerusalem or Rome.
sacredness of every human life. The road out of Limbo begins
when we take seriously that those ‘not like us’ are sacred But Palm Sunday is a celebration: because the truth of Jesus the
partners whose wellbeing is crucial to our own. Galilean could not be silenced. The death that was meant to
wipe out his compassion from the face of the earth instead gave
Palm Sunday remembers that Jesus refused to tolerate excluding birth to a true ‘slave rebellion’ in whose counterculture everyone
others not ‘like us’. He insisted that the Temple of God’s presence was equally welcome and equally sacred: male and female,
was meant to be “a house of prayer for all nations – but you slave and free, every culture, ‘all nations’. We are the heirs of
have made it a den of thieves!” that revolutionary belief: nothing outweighs the sacredness of
every human life. The road out of Limbo begins when we see all
Those words should sting in Australia: because this is the land of creatures as sacred partners in the earth, whose wellbeing is
the earth’s oldest culture, a people of extraordinary grace and crucial to our own.
welcome belonging to a land so sacred that the first explorers
called it ‘the Great South-Land of the Holy Spirit’. Let the cry be heard – in Canberra and Geneva and in every
border-guarded nation on earth: the way beyond Limbo starts
This whole land is a Temple – but it is not its First Peoples who in our hearts, and our rage, and our courage – in our solidarity
are barring the way. Like the Jerusalem Temple, Australia itself with the Galilean whose truth will never die.
could be ‘a house of prayer for all nations’. But it has been
stolen; and the thieves in charge are the very ones who try to L Lee Levett-Olson * 23 March 2018
impose their bureaucrat Limbo on all who run to us for safety. -4-