Digging at the confluence of culture and everything else
Good Friday and Passover
04/03/2015Posted by on
Good Friday happens to fall on the day preceding the first night of Passover this year. That makes it a good time to remind everyone that Christian Church is, in Francis Spufford’s words, “The International League of the Guilty”.
Good Friday should be the day should be the day of all days in the Christian year when we are ashamed of even our tiniest and most necessary cruelties — seeing before us the image of their consequences. But instead, grotesquely, it was often the day for pogroms; a day of heightened emotions which could be resolved, for Christian mobs pouring out o of churches, into a search for Jews to kill. Then Easter was celebrated with smoke and screams and Christ re-crucified. The final catastrophe of European Jewry, in the twentieth century, wasn’t just powered by religious anti-Semitism, but it played its part. The is the greatest shame of Christian history; the most disgusting misapplication possible of the story of compassion unto death. My own church and most of the other mainstream branches of the universal ecclesia too, now insists that on Good Friday we all of us in the building shout out “Crucify him! Crucify him!,” to remind us whodunit, and that it wasn’t Them. – Francis Spufford, Unapologetic
Christianity is more than mere tribal affiliation, even of Christians themselves are often tribal. It is in fact, an idea that reaches beyond tribe and into universality. And we need to be reminded that in a particular time, in a particular place, each and every one of us finds ourselves consistently on the side of the angry crowd and of the high priests, with or without the Powers of the world pushing us along.
for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. – Matthew 25:42-45, NRSV translation
We can barely manage charity for the people we know and like. And we never recognize the face of the divine when it is right there in front of us. We are not with the apostles, and even if we were, the apostles weren’t with Jesus in the end either. As Jews celebrate Passover, in remembrance of their tribe’s liberation from slavery and bondage, we need to remember they needed to be liberated from people just like us. And we are doing it, to someone, somewhere, right now. We are doing it to Jesus.
Good Friday is the darkest part of the story. The hero is dead, and we killed him. Thank God Easter is coming in spite of us, and for us.