Welcome to the Monday Mailing Vol 2, Ed 14 –
There are days when we hear things in the Holy Texts that we don’t remembering hearing before. There are days when, given what is happening around us, the Holy Texts take on new meaning for us. There are days when we hear the Holy Texts and know that the Spirit has moved among and within us, and we will never be the same.
Yesterday, as Rae read with me about the events of Holy Week, this is the Holy Text which reached out to me: Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
I have been at this ministry stuff for 33 years now. 33 years of hearing the stories. . .of remembering, as Jesus commands us to, the teachings which he gave. Never has this story hit me as it did this year.
What hit me? The fact that the people were willing in the day to have a murderer released from a sentence of death, so that Jesus might be handed over to be killed. In our culture, in this day, it is still expedient that justice must suffer and die, at the hands of “keeping the peace.” It is seen as advantageous to release a “murderer” rather than the One who challenges the status-quo with grace, mercy, peace and love. We have seen it over and over again this last year. Innocent Black, Asian, Hispanic women and men have been brutalized and even murdered by the “other” (which in this case is us, white America) and those in power, and rather than take the bold steps to stand with love, grace and mercy, our society chooses the pathway of fear and expediency.
This is, I admit, a gross generalization, but there is truth to be found in it, none-the-less. When gun violence occurs in our nation and the response that is heard over the airwaves is “he was having a bad day,” we are elevating one life over the lives of eight others. When we are willing to tolerate the murder of innocents because we “love our guns,” we are sliding down a hill it will be increasingly more difficult to climb out of.
Justice, mercy, peace, love . . . they require hard work from the faithful. Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said those who wish to come after me, must pick up their cross and follow. Nowhere does the call of the cross become more evident than Holy Week. This Holy Week, may you, may we all consider the cost of following our Lord, that justice, peace, mercy, love and grace may cover our world.
Peace be with you –