Readings: Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66
The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven.”Matthew 21:9
The Power of Voice
Once again, we come to Palm Sunday, the last Sunday in Lent, when we hear two impactful stories: the first, that of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem; the second, that of His crucifixion. We begin with the crowds shouting “Hosanna in the highest heaven! Hosanna to the Son of David!” and end with them shouting “Let him be crucified!.”
All throughout our readings today, we find the human voice. The Prophet Isaiah tells of how the voice can “sustain the weary with a word” (Isaiah 50:4). Our Psalm sings a great cry not only of supplication, but also of praise for God’s faithfulness. St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians speaks of how at the name of Jesus every tongue confesses to the glory of the Lord. And in the Gospel readings, we hear not only from the crowds, but we also hear Jesus’s instructions and prayers, and the disciples’ attempts, for better or worse, to deal with their fear and anxiety as they encounter a great celebration and an unimaginable horror. You may even hear the 2nd Gospel reading narrated in many voices in your parish.
The human voice is a powerful instrument. It can tell stories, give instructions and make wondrous music. It can express the heights of splendour and the depths of anguish. Most importantly, it is a powerful tool to speak truth, to decry injustice, to teach love and to demonstrate solidarity. One voice by itself, speaking with purpose and conviction, can pierce through both silence and cacophony. Many voices in harmony create a symphonic movement that awakens hearts and has the power to change minds. And a voice’s silence can speak more than any words ever could.
Chan Ramy, the Executive Director of the Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), a Development and Peace – Caritas Canada partner in Cambodia, has a keen understanding of the power of voice. The YRDP works with young people, helping them to develop their critical thinking skills and strengthen their social conscience, to understand the complexities and root causes of the social issues they face, and to create positive social action in their communities. The training these young people receive helps them to discover their voice, to empower it, and to exert it in service of promoting justice and lasting peace. It helps them to understand that their voice matters and that, when they use it, their voice has the power to effect change.
We too must understand the importance of our voice. Let us use it wherever we can to elevate the cries of the poor and of the Earth, to bring hope to those weary from the fight for justice, and to bring the Kingdom of God more fully to Earth as Jesus did in His lifetime. Let us also use our silence judiciously, so that we can listen more effectively to the voices of our partners and to the guiding voice of the Spirit. May our voices ring out in wonder and awe, proclaiming the coming of the King of Glory, in justice and in peace.
And though Lent is almost over, let us remember that the work of solidarity continues. By becoming members of Development and Peace – Caritas Canada, we add our individual voice to its collective harmonic movement of solidarity. And by engaging with the Create Hope: Stand for the Land campaign year-round, we give voice to the work of our partners around the world.