Choose to stay or walk away

It seems that every few days another high level political figure leaves the White House. People on one side of the political aisle refuse to approve anything proposed by people on the other. And some of the people who were once among the president’s staunchest supporters have gone from waving palms and crying “Hosanna” to shaking their fists and shouting “crucify him.”

There is something in the human heart that loves a winner. Just tune in to any of the award shows and you’ll see people crowding around each long, black limo as it arrives and jostling for a better view as celebrities are being interviewed. On the other hand, ask who won the award five years ago and most people will neither know nor care. Because, whether in film or in politics, celebrity is fleeting. Last year’s winner is this year’s loser. And nobody wants to be associated with a loser.

A great crowd had come to the feast. While they were there they “heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,” so they rolled out the red carpet for him, at least figuratively speaking. Jesus’ star was in the ascendancy and everyone wanted to see him, to be associated with him. But, as we know, it wouldn’t be long before the climate would change.
We may never know exactly why so many members of the president’s staff have chosen this moment in history to resign. Perhaps it was because being close to the president does not offer the same power and privilege that it once did. Maybe they chose to sacrifice themselves so that the party could bring in new blood. Or perhaps it wasn’t their idea at all, but rather something that was asked of them.

There are all kinds of reasons for walking away, whether from a politician, a movie star or a Messiah. Judas left because he found power elsewhere. The other disciples left because they were afraid. Only the women chose to remain, even though their hopes had died. Lent is almost over. Today we come with palm branches in our hands. Do we remain? Or walk away?

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.