(Image of Cross – photo credit)
It’s been a long Lent. Good Friday 2017 dawns with rumors of war in the offing with North Korea, images of a massive bomb obliterating caves of terrorists in Afghanistan, the searing images of children gassed by a dictator in Syria still fresh along with the chest-thumping gloats of power by a U.S. president who extols the virtue of chocolate cake and menacing munitions all in the same bite. Every swaggering threat seems to encourage more swaggering threats on the other side, whether by terrorists or tyrants. When will one of those threats become a trigger? At home, a man is violently dragged off an airplane for no greater offense than having bought a ticket and refusing to surrender his seat to an airline staff member riding for free. Elsewhere, ICE drags mothers away from children for the mere crime of being in the greatest, richest country in history without proper papers, and tens of thousands of other young people fear that their own dreams of a college degree and productive life might be shattered by the selfish actions of a big country with an increasingly small heart. Other people are sick with worry that political games might cause them to lose their modest health insurance that literally can make a difference between life and death. Children are still dying in classrooms in a nation rife with guns and domestic violence, while our political leaders golf in studied silence. African American communities long plagued by police violence worry that a new Justice Department is retreating from justice. Around the world, Christians are murdered in Egyptian churches; refugees continue to wash onto Mediterranean shores; European political turmoil rejects conventional solutions but fails to offer effective new ideas, just more turmoil, uncertainty and fear of chaos.
We Christians learn from the earliest ages that Good Friday is the ultimate manifestation of our sin: Christ died for our sins, we say, and oh, Lordy, we see how plentiful and depraved those sins can be every single day. Somedays it seems that there will not be enough Good Fridays in all of human history to atone for what we do to each other.
But then, a miracle. Resurrection. No matter how evil, how sorrowful, how depraved the sins, we have hope. Hope in redemption. Hope in the Resurrection.
Right now it feels like we are seeking the Resurrection like never before. We wonder how we got to this place where so many people are suffering and in fear for reasons that elude rationality. When did we stop believing in the power of rational discourse to achieve peace, in the consistent practice of the virtue of charity to relieve suffering, in the essential importance of hope to sustain a good society. When did we forget that real justice is not about exerting power over others, or about vengeance, but about serving others in thanksgiving for the gift of God’s life in us?
When did we lose Faith? In too many places today and across history, Faith is weaponized, used to justify terror, war, oppression, injustice. But true Faith is none of those. Faith is ultimately about humility, the humble acceptance of a power and purpose greater than any one of us, a divine plan for human existence that is not about one man’s power over another, but rather, about an idea of salvation that is expressed in how well we live our lives each day in service to each other, constructing a society that embodies the hope of charity, justice and peace for all.
We seek Resurrection. Our reflections on this Easter Weekend need to turn away from a sense of anguish about how we got to this unhappy moment in human history toward a renewal of our spirit of determination to make the kind of changes necessary to restore hope, the message of the Resurrection.