April 2, 2021

A Good Friday Reflection

In reading the Good Friday narrative, it is important to see ourselves in the characters, who are not monsters but people like us.

I am thinking today of the way the characters are driven by fear. Pilate, Herod, and the temple elites are adversaries who have achieved a kind of uneasy peace. They all see that if that peace is broken, it will be disaster. If there is civil unrest, the army will come, they will all be removed from their positions, and many, many people will die. They see Jesus' questioning of the fragile status quo—and some more drastic actions, like driving the money-changers out of the temple—as a threat to this stability. The question of whether he is or is not guilty of some kind of crime is not really important. To keep the peace, he has to be removed, but none of them wants to take responsibility for removing him. In the end, Pilate is willing to condemn to torture and death a man he himself believes to be innocent—and then try to blame this injustice on others, by symbolically washing his hands—rather than accept risk for the sake of justice. In this sense, he displays a kind of moral cowardice to which we are all prone: we could treat others decently, but we are afraid to do anything that might upset the comfort and stability of our lives.

The Christian doctrine is that God stands in the middle to be crushed by the fears and insecurities that prevent us from pursuing justice.

Lent is a time when Christians practice letting go of the things that don't matter to pursue the things we do, and we try to learn that some of the things we are afraid of losing might not be so important after all. I told people a while ago that I feel like it's been Lent for a year. In the pandemic, we've all been deprived of many things and we've learned, I hope, that some of those things don't matter—and some of them really do. I hope that I can learn from this to refocus my priorities, to be less fearful, and to place justice and love above my own comfort.

Posted by Kenny at April 2, 2021 2:27 PM
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