Friday, April 02, 2021

hate is not a station of the cross

Today is Good Friday -- the day that Christians memorialize Jesus' passion, crucifixion, and death.

The local churches were filled with worshipers. People may use Semana Santa as a handy vehicle for a week or a few days enjoying the beach, but it is still a very important day on the Christian calendar.

I had hoped that Barra de Navidad would use this apparent ebb in the corona virus to re-initiate its own passion procession of the stations of the cross with its full Cecil B. DeMille production values. Horses. Roman soldiers. Jesus carrying his cross.

But that was not to be. Instead, I noticed something new. New to me, that is. I have probably been so taken with the spectacle of the passion procession that I missed a much smaller -- but far more personal -- exhibition of individual faith.

After leaving Good Friday services, I noticed a series of small corner shrines where small groups of the faithful had gathered to pray and worship. If I had taken a closer look, I suspect they were shrines for the stations of the cross. The worshipers would move from one to the other and recite printed prayers.

I am not Catholic, but my Mexican Catholic acquaintances have taught me that I share a common faith with them -- what C.S. Lewis called "mere Chrisrtianity." One of those shared concerns is the meaning of Jesus the Messiah's torture and death almost 1990 years ago.

In his Good Friday sermon this morning, Pastor Al commented that one fact stood out to him as he read the four gospel accounts of Jesus' torture at the hands of the Romans. The flogging. The crown of thorns. The humiliation of being stripped.

But, out of all that, Al was most offended by one thing. "Why did they have to spit on him?"

My first reaction was that was the least of what was happening to Jesus. He would soon be hung on an execution stake where he would die.

However, as I listened to Al speak, that act of spitting gnawed at me. It was a sign of absolute hatred. We spit on what we find worthless in life.

And we still do. Throughout the world, authority still spits on the powerless. It may not be Roman soldiers spitting on Jesus. But the same spirit of hatred surrounds us. Burmese soldiers shooting their fellow citizens. Chinese bureaucrats imprisoning Uyghurs in prison camps. Police throughout the world treating the powerless as being devoid of humanity.

As I sat there, I thought how ironic it was that the same Jesus who taught that we need to treat even thoughts of hatred as being the equivalent of murder was subjected to such overt hatred. That if the same Roman soldiers had adopted his teachings, they could not have done what they did. Nor should we.

I am dining out tonight. But when I return home I am going to watch The Passion of the Christ. I have not seen it in years. Tonight would be an appropriate night to watch it again.

Today would be a good day for me to start taking inventory and then to rid myself of some of the hatred that has seeped into the darker corners of my life. I am certain my neighbors who were walking the stations of the cross would understand the sentiment.


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