Yes or no? The Good Friday edition.

EDITmoab (1).jpgMy friend Kevin Ahern, who is a theologian and ethicist said this on Twitter on Holy Thursday. I found the photo and added the text to it as a reminder of what forms crucifixion comes in. Systematic violence is inherently challenging because it is systematic. We “need” to do this, what are the “alternatives” if we do not do this, we will “get” the bad guys, and so forth.

As Jesus Christ hung on a cross he was flanked by a cross on each side. Crucified next to him were two thieves, and to one, the one who asked for help, Christ promised heaven.

There is no reconciling or rationalizing violence and death. Even when it is done to us, did we not receive the greatest lesson in not retaliating? I get the desire to retaliate, but what about the consequences? What will we choose this Triduum? To follow the Prince of Peace, the great reconciler and restorer of order and good? Or will we follow the path of crucifixion and death? The choice is ours, even if we wait until the last minute. Yes or no? To crucify or to be crucified? Yes or no? What will we choose?

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Yes or no? The Holy Thursday edition.

siegerkoder-washing-of-feetOn this Holy Thursday, let us remember that where there is charity and love, God is there. God is always present, but in charity and love, the presence of God is made real. To love others, to serve others, to walk courageously with Christ, no matter what we face… this is our way of life.

However, we all fall asleep, get distracted, we can’t face the hardest truths, we do not always love as we have been loved. Yet, all it takes is one moment in which our avoidance, our fear, our absence all turns towards the One. A single yes uttered in a sea littered with the refuse of a lifetime of no no no can change everything. It does not have to happen in church, it might be a hello to a stranger, coffee for a homeless person, opening the door for that annoying neighbor and inviting them in instead of pretending not to be home. The charity and love of the word yes, typically a yes uttered in the face of resistance is the inbreaking of the divine.

The simple repeated chant of this Ubi caritas from Taize is a prayer for all of us. Where will charity and love be present today? The answer lies with each of us. Love one another, serve one another. May the blessings of Holy Thursday and the Triduum be with you all, may the eternal love of Christ guide us today and always.

Ubi caritas et amor,
ubi caritas,
Deus ibi est.
(Where there is charity and love,
God is there.)

You shall not kill

no-killing_designA question has nagged me all during Lent, and now sits front and center on Good Friday. That question is: why do we kill one another?

Well, why do we kill one another? The Fifth Commandment states: “You shall not kill.” This seems very clear, but as human beings we seem to find numerous ways to rationalize a great deal of killing, and even more ways of denial when it comes to deaths we might be able to prevent. Consider how poverty, hunger, drugs, lack of medical care, human trafficking, the death penalty, torture, and war are the tip of the iceberg.

thou-shall-not-kill-2People die every day and not all of them are killed, but we will focus on those who are killed. I’m going to back up for a moment and pose my original question again: why do we kill one another?

We kill one another all the time, and seemingly with great ease. A few things that come to mind are the great bargains on the clothes we like to wear, getting good prices on flights, putting out-of-season produce on our tables, shaking our heads – whether with Continue reading

Holy Thursday Pedi

tnb_pic2Have you ever gotten a pedicure on or near Holy Thursday because you knew that your feet would be washed at the Mass of the Lord’s Passion?  Yes people, it is true, vanity reigned, and I made sure that my feet would look OK before I let someone wash them at church.

Yes, I know… when you do it, it’s one thing, and when you write about it or read about it, it is another thing. Did you hear me Continue reading

Good Friday

IMG_0216Today is a day of suffering and death. Whether we realize it or not, both suffering and death unite us; these are things we all share, whether we want to or not. And who wants to suffer or die? Or to watch those whom we love, suffer or die? And then there is betrayal.

Rich, poor, black, white, Catholic, atheist, Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative. We all suffer, we all die. And most likely, we are all betrayed at some point in our lives; generally more than once, and in ways that shock and astound us.

IMG_0218What kind of God would want to come to be one of us and experience all of these things? I can’t imagine, but I am deeply grateful for a God who has done this for us. This is not about the hairshirt, making ourselves suffer, and other self-inflicted atonement related choices. I actually am not down with that, if you pardon my choice of phrase. Remember, we did discuss that at the beginning of Lent.

The two photos are from the blog, Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo, where Dina serves up photos, information, and wisdom. You can read more about what these photos are by going over there. Hint: only evidence of crucifixion. Not Jesus’ crucifixion though.)

Given that we are all faced with such things, I am grateful for a God that unites with us in suffering and death, and then offers the gift of eternal life. That all sounds nice, but the reality is that there is so much pain out there, I see it everywhere. And then I wonder , is there hope also? I can’t help but hold onto it, like a piece of styrofoam keeping me afloat on a tumultuous sea.

This day makes no sense in so many ways, no matter what I have just said. And yet, conversely, without this day, life as I understand it makes no sense at all either.