After every game, Loyola-Chicago's bandwagon gets more crowded. I joined it last night.
"Bandwagon" was originally used to describe the wagon that carried the band in circus parades, but it became a derisive term when candidates began renting circus wagons to get their message out. "Don't jump on the bandwagon" was a way of warning voters against supporting political foes simply because it looked like they might win.
We need more of a reason to support someone or something or some school than the fact that they might win. In Loyola-Chicago's case, the reason might be how unlikely it is that they are in a position to win or it might just be their adorable 98 year-old chaplain Sister Jean who, also against the odds, is now a household name.
The bandwagon for Jesus ebbed and flowed throughout his ministry. Crowds would gather as his reputation for healing spread. Would-be disciples left when he said something hard to hear about eating his body or drinking his blood (John 6:51-66) or selling all they have and giving the money to the poor and following him (Mark 10:17-22).
No one knows the exact numbers of people celebrating Jesus on Palm Sunday, but it was a notable enough event that all four gospels cover it. "Many people," Mark tells us, spread their cloaks and leafy branches before him (Mark 11:8). As is regularly pointed out, it's very likely that some of those same people supporting Jesus on Sunday were calling for his crucifixion by Friday.
The trouble with bandwagons is the lack of commitment we bring to them. If it's a trend for the moment, with them only while their star is rising kind of commitment, your support is not worth very much. Loyola-Chicago is happy to be the darlings of the country right now and their Admissions Office is grateful for the hits their website continues to receive. For some, it will translate into attending the school and wearing their jerseys in years ahead. For most, another "Cinderella" will be dancing into our hearts in next year's basketball tournament.
Jesus deserves much more than our commitment when it's convenient or eases our pain, and abandonment when it's difficult and puts us at risk for receiving pain. He has given us plenty of reasons to stay with him, not the least of which is his commitment to us, which included horrible humiliation and suffering.
Please show your ongoing commitment to Jesus this week by being part of the final Lenten service on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. (with guest preacher Rev. Larry Hays), the Maundy Thursday service (7 p.m.), the Good Friday Stations of the Cross walk around downtown (10 a.m.), and the Good Friday service (12 p.m. with guest preacher Rev. Mary Finklea).
Make this a very holy week.