At an annual festival in Bali each March, around 70 Hindu young men and women dress in traditional sarongs and pray in the local temple in Sesetan before parading in lines through the street and choosing a partner. As a gamelan orchestra chimes in the background and to the cheers of onlookers, they kiss for around 15 seconds before priests step in, soaking them with buckets of water.
The ceremony, dating back to the late 19th-century, is said to ensure the good health and prosperity of those taking part and of the whole village. For the same reason, the crowd welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday. They cheered because they hoped he would bring them good times and because it was fun.
Our emotions can be fickle. It’s doubtful whether many of the liaisons created at the kissing festival will come to anything. The crowd’s enthusiasm for Jesus drifted away as the unorthodoxy of his approach became clear during the week which followed. Any real change in the fortunes of individuals or of peoples takes more than momentary enthusiasm or passion.
Jesus’ feelings were not so transitory. In his compassionate response to people who came to him for help, in his anger in the Temple, in his struggles in Gethsemane, we see him responding to what happened to him with deep emotion. It was perhaps one of the things which kept him going through his last week of life.
Passionate feelings like his can be harnessed in the cause of creative change. Most people prefer more superficial expression of passion – it’s more comfortable – but allowing strong emotions to emerge, sometimes from deep within us, can be a powerful force for good.
Read: Jesus was “moved with pity” (the word used means a churning in the gut) (Mark 1.41)
Rejoice: in the people or issues about which I feel strongly.
Reflect: Do I have any strong feelings which don’t at the moment have an outlet?
Remember: “Negative” feelings like anger can also be a valuable resource.
Resolve: to seek God’s help in finding ways of channelling my strong feelings into creative actions.