‘When I get an encore I go home feeling like a king..!’ Christy Moore

We all love to be loved! It’s natural, it’s part of the way we are made. It’s good when this happens in a wholesome way. It’s always better when praise or applause comes our way without us going out of our way to get it. Sadly sometimes such praise is very hollow and very short lived. We quickly learn to distinguish between the over the top razzmatazz type of applause that will not, indeed cannot last, and the gentler, more nourishing affirmation of a trusted friend.

Things can really go wrong when we allow our behaviour to be taken over by our need for approval. Then we begin to make decisions, and modify our behaviour to get approval. Somewhere in here the applause can become addictive. The danger here of course is that we can sell ourselves short and the boundary between integrity and popularity can become quite blurred. We begin to do things that long after the approval of the other is gone we will be left with regret and disappointment in ourselves.

One of the worst abuses in the struggle between popularity versus dignity or honour, is when people discover we are not the person they thought we were or indeed the person they wanted us to be. Many people feel that they are a disappointment to someone. They may or not actually be a disappointment, but they feel they are.

I know my parents really wanted a little girl.
I know my Dad wanted a boy.
It was obvious that I was not the daughter they wanted: I mean I despised dolls, and I absolutely loath pink!
My Dad really wanted me to be Ireland’s answer to Beckham: as for me, the thought of running around a field in a pair of shorts after a ball made me feel ill.
They really wanted me to follow the family tradition of teaching.
I thought my Mum was never going to recover from my shaving my head.
I will never forget their reaction to my tattoo.
They have done their best but I know Dad still struggles with my sexuality.
They were so disappointed I had no interest in keeping on the house.
I was their only hope of grandchildren. The family name will die with me.
They feel so let down by my lack of faith.

Sometimes the greatest disappointment we experience is the disappointment we feel regarding ourselves. Too tall, too small, too fat, too thin. Did not make the team. I hav’nt a note in my head. Unattained goals. Unlived dreams. Rarely do we ask… am I kind? Am I loving? Do I spread love?


It is amazing to see what happens Jesus between what we celebrate on Palm Sunday and what happens on Good Friday. Welcome gives way to rejection, warm embrace to scourging. He is hailed as King and very quickly crucified as a common criminal. The crowd have expectations. Is this the King? Is this the one who will vanquish the Romans? Is this Jesus going to lead the revolution? We of course know that he is both revolutionary and King but not in the sense that they expect or want. They feel disappointed, let down. Disappointment in an individual or a group can simmer as resentment and boil to rage. When the mob, any mob, turns it can quickly become savage. At this point on Palm Sunday we begin a descent with Jesus that is going to take us to the grave.

It is in Holy Week that all the real tough challenges of Lent come together. The call to put others before ourselves especially those less fortunate than ourselves. The call to prayer. The call not to always just go for the quick fix, the easy option. The call to forgive, to really forgive from the heart. It is in Holy Week that we see just how tough it is to be a real follower of Jesus. Up until now we might have fudged it a little but there is no escaping Gethsemane. There is no compromise on Calvary.

I think the real question is are we spiritually clever, are we really tuned in from the point of view of what is good for our soul? Are we seriously going to opt for the rather fickle applause instead of the reward of God’s eternal reward. Will we go for the immediacy and taste explosion of the two minutes in the microwave or the longer delayed slow cook with all its flavour and dietary benefits. The sure way of attaining heaven is to follow the way of Jesus. He is clear and concise. It is the Way of the Cross. I suppose there is something in all of us that would like to jump to Easter Sunday morning and skip the blood sweat and tears of Good Friday. Chocolate, fluffy chickens are far more attractive than the scourging or crowning with thorns. The challenge for us followers of Jesus is not to be lured into the glitz of the applause to the neglect of being faithful to God’s loving plan for us. Our real happiness lies in being faithful to the Lord’s dream for us.


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