Sunday, March 13, 2011


I was a Catholic school brat. We learned "Church" right alongside reading, writing and 'rithmetic. As tiny first-graders, with the barest grasp of those secular subjects, we sat on hard pews, knelt on lumpy kneelers, steeping in the various rituals and dogma attached to our parents' religion.

Lent was a particularly long and somber season. We were subjected to story after story about Our Lord's suffering and death. (Stations of the Cross, anyone?) A few months earlier, Christ had been a sweet baby wrapped in white cloth snuggled into a box of hay; armies of angels had crowded the skies to sing about him; important Kings had traveled far to visit and lavish him with gifts. Now he was a grown man trudging morosely toward his grisly death. Whipped and stripped and crowned with thorns; beaten and derided, skewered and stabbed. It was a lot for a little tyke to absorb. But absorb it we did, dutiful little sponges that we were.

There was one aspect of the Passion Story that, even as I grew from that overwhelmed six-year-old to a much more worldly-wise adolescent, never quite resonated with me. How could it be that Jesus had ridden triumphantly into Jerusalem to cries of "Hosanna!" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" and a week later, stood before the Roman governor while the crowds in the streets roared "Crucify him!"

It made no sense. People do not act like that. But, hey…it was a long time ago. The people were ancients. Savages. Nearly Neanderthals. They didn't know how to act in a civilized manner. Not like we do now. This was the only possible explanation. So the story got filed into my mind somewhere between "ancient history" and "fairy tale."

I'm fifty-five years old, now. Much as I often cannot believe it myself, I've lived a lot of years. Seen a lot of things, in comparison to people twenty or thirty years my junior (yet, on a scale of all there is to see…hardly a glimpse of anything.) Some of the things I have seen I would rather not have seen. They have caused me to understand things I would rather not know. But they are what they are.

Just being a witness to the level to which human interaction has sunk over the past decade…seeing what we can, will, and do say and do to one another, I can say without reservation that human beings are still every bit the "savages" we might have been two thousand years ago. Perhaps more so, because we have had two millennia to observe and learn from our abhorrent behavior; yet we deliberately choose hysteria and mindless violence time after time.

I can almost hear those words resounding from every television, radio, computer, i-phone…name your media device. And in every hall of every local, state and national house of government. As loud and as chilling as in the dusty streets of an ancient city.

Crucify him!

1 comment:

  1. Theologians have written atonement theoogies that describe God as a self-centered egotist that demands our complete adoration and worship and when humans failed to do this God/father demaded that his son die as a payment for our failure.

    That is what I have struggled with as a Christian. What kind of a God is that?

    I prefer the theologies that acknowledge that Christ is the fulfillment of God's unending love and compassion for humanity/creation. A love that was rejected by humans who, threatened by his profound love/compassion chose to crucify him instead of embrace it.

    Yes, we humans are savages. Cruel. Horrible.

    Sometimes though we humans manage to experience the fullness of God's love and compassion and find our way to become loving and compassionate. The women at the foot of the cross image this for us.

    I appreciate Lent and the opportunity it affords us to reflect on the various ways we human beings are broken and cause brokenness - broken with God, broken with ourselves by being overly self critical (or other ways), and broken with others. Lent invites us to look deeply into our brokenness and make efforts to restore wholeness in our lives and the world around become Christ-like in love and compassion.

    Well. Now you know the content of all my Lenten sermons...LOL