When Jesus entered Jerusalem on his donkey, the crowds cheered and shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” He was Mr Popular.
They believed he was the long-awaited political and military leader who would free them from the clutch of Roman occupation.
Following his angry outburst in the Temple, however, when he turned over the tables, it was clear they would be disappointed.
Within days, they cried, ‘Crucify him!”
You know the story that the Church is about to tell again; a dark chapter in the history of the world, one that reveals the depths of evil to which humanity can plummet.
Tragically, we received another reminder of this unpalatable truth with the recent terrorist attack in Westminster.
Khalid Masood had been judged to be a ‘nice man’ by the staff when he left his Brighton hotel.
Within hours he had caused four deaths and many injuries.
The shockwaves were felt around the world and we were reminded again that in this imperfect world, in which extremism can lead to a fatal loss of perspective, evil can sometimes appear to have the upper hand.
The crucifixion of Jesus resulted from the loss of perspective of both a vocal Jewish crowd and a weak Roman governor.
But it also revealed the incomparable goodness of the only perfect person the world has seen.
In subjecting himself to suffering and death, Jesus showed the extent of his divine love for the world and the quality of his holiness.
Little wonder this was vindicated in the resurrection.
Once and for all, it was shown that the darkness of evil and death will never extinguish the light of goodness and love – not in heaven and not on earth.
The dark nature of the terrorist attack in London is without doubt. But we would be wrong to conclude that light was absent.
Goodness triumphed in the courage of the Police and those who rushed to help; in the protection and assistance provided by Westminster Abbey and other institutions; in the global outpouring of sympathy; in the insight that extremism must not be allowed to falsify the claims of true religion or undermine the efforts for healthy integration within our communities.
The Archbishop of Canterbury stood shoulder to shoulder with Jewish and Muslim leaders. Light shone through the darkness.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ asserts that it always will.
And how often we see just how much goodness there is in the world – often in small acts of every-day kindness.
I am writing this on Mothering Sunday; how many acts of self-sacrificing love have we recounted today? And reflecting on my diary over the last few weeks, I’ve witnessed people giving of themselves for the well-being of others.
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert in the Royal Hall, given by the orchestras of St Aidan’s School and that of RAF College Cranwell – it was life-enhancing for participants and audience alike.
As was the Sights and Sounds event in Ripon, a day of showing off and celebrating not only the great heritage within the city, but also the countless ways in which groups and individuals support others.
In a world in which sin is a fact of life, signs of Easter’s triumph daily shine out in countless life-enhancing acts of kindness and love.
You are welcome to join us at Ripon Cathedral throughout Holy Week and Easter as, led by Bishop John Pritchard, we walk with Jesus through his suffering and death to his glorious resurrection.
Bishop Nick Baines is with us on Easter Day at 10.30am.
Details of services can be found on the Cathedral’s website.