ANDY HAMILTON SJ reflects on Palm Sunday as the intersection of stark political decisions and the human reality of those affected by them – calling for compassion and hope for people seeking asylum today.

Each year, many of us at Jesuit Social Services join a march for refugees on Palm Sunday. In the Christian tradition inherited by Jesuit Social Services, it marks Jesus’ almost comic entry into Jerusalem, establishing his claim to be the Messiah, which led to his execution by the Roman and local authorities a week later. They saw his religious claim as political and had him killed after a mockery of a trial. In that context Palm Sunday stands at the intersection of the world of justice and goodness and the brutal political realities of human societies. It mocks the pretentions of power that considers only the expediency of actions and not the human reality of the people affected by them.

At that intersection today refugees lie in the centre. The defenceless entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is echoed in the equally defenceless movement of so many people around the world, forced to flee their own lands and to come into foreign lands. Many of them, too, experience the same murderous abuse of power that later in the week Jesus experienced at the hands of the civil and religious powers. That draws many of us to gather and march for refugees.

Like Jesus, those who march enter the city, the centre of power, to pray and demand that the refugees receive hospitality from our nation. They ask for freedom from imprisonment, for attention and justice in the hearing of their cases, for support in living decently, for cooperation with other governments to stop the making of refugees, and for freedom to live in the community and raise their families.

Christians also believe Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and dehumanising death were not the story of defeat and failure that they appear to be. Easter Sunday followed. We live in the same wild hope that refugees will find a home among us.

Jesuit Social Services co-convenes the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) with Jesuit Refugee Service Australia. A CAPSA contingent will join the Melbourne rally for Palm Sunday National Day of Action on 24 March, with a reflection commencing at 9:45am at Parliament Gardens.