The Weeks of Prayer 24, 25 and 26
I have been sitting in the Passion of Jesus for several weeks.
The Paschal Mystery is the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. God, fully manifested in Jesus, is taking on the misery of the human condition in its most abhorrent expressions. And in accepting this on Himself, He is also experiencing the most horrid consequence of the human condition: alienation from God. It is very difficult to sit in the passion narratives.
The desertion of the disciples is an expression of the alienation. Jesus is utterly alone in his passion. He has been betrayed, denied and deserted by those who were closest to Him. You can feel this alienation.
The injustice is so offensive. Pilate’s question is penetrating in this midst of what is happening: “What evil has He done?” Over and over Pilate tries to release Jesus because he sees the jealousy of the religious leaders. But in the end he succumbs and to satisfy the crowd he hands Jesus over to be crucified. What kind of justice is this, where a rioting mob of people can demand the execution of a person?
This injustice is palpable. You can feel it through your entire being.
All of this is happening to God, taking human form in Jesus, who demonstrated the character of God as steadfast, unwavering love by teaching, healing and touching the people, bringing good news to the poor.
It is all so unfair.
But this is what has happened to each of us. At some point in our journey, we each experienced the alienation and the injustice of the human condition as we were growing up. We experienced that abuse, the neglect, that violation, that violence as a child, and were deeply wounded as a result. Though we had done nothing to deserve it, we received this wound. Carrying this wound, we became the wounders, and did to our children and others the very same thing that was done to us, because we did not know how to let go of the wound. We carried it and then we inflicted it on another.
This is what Jesus carries in His passion. Jesus is wounded because we are wounded. Jesus is alienated because we are alienated. Jesus is a victim of horrible injustice at the hands of misused power because we are also.
Jesus also carries the violators.
I often think of the innocent bystanders who are forced to participate in this injustice. Especially the soldiers. There is a powerful wave of injustice that is taking place here and people are just getting caught up in it, and I suspect they are doing things that they never could have imagined themselves doing. Mocking this innocent man, spitting upon him, striking him. It is cowardly behavior against one who cannot (and will not) defend Himself. When the dust of the drama ended, at least one centurion (probably others) said, “Surely this man was innocent; He was the Son of God.” This man went home that night deeply convicted over how he had treated Jesus.
Jesus carries all of this in His passion.
And here is what we cannot imagine…Jesus asks us to go with Him. “I am carrying your wounds and I am carrying how you have wounded others, so you can be free and receive resurrection life. Come and die. Come and live.”
In so many ways, He says that unless we die, we cannot live. There is a resurrection being offered to us, the living water of abundant life. But we cannot receive it unless we die. This is the death unto new life. It is the grain of wheat that falls into the ground. It is taking up that cross of the injustice we experienced. In some mysterious way, as we let this thing go in an emptying of ourselves as Jesus empties Himself, we experience the new life that Jesus desires for us to have “on earth as it is in heaven.”
I cannot explain how this happens. It just does, if we just do.
The Paschal Mystery is the miracle of our healing.
Jesus, wounded for my transgressions, crushed for my iniquities, Upon Him was the punishment that made me whole and by His wounds I am healed.
Thank God for His indescribable gift, HIs great and wonderful works in our lives. We are reconciled to God, to one another and to ourselves!