We’ve created a world that both glorifies violence and has become immune to it. Violent movies and games some of our most popular entertainment but when we want to whitewash it, we speak of sacrifice or collateral damage.
In the Episcopal Church our baptismal covenant requires us to seek and serve Christ in all persons. If we believe this, if we believe that we see the face of Christ in others, we must recognize that whatever we do to the least of these, we do to Jesus. Ours has become a world where every day is Good Friday. Every day is an opportunity to crucify Jesus.
Just in our recent memory, we crucified Jesus in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 and in Texas on June 7, 1998. We crucified him in Wyoming on October 12, 1998 and in New York on September 11, 2001. We saw him crucified in Tucson on January 8, 2011 and in Aurora on July 20, 2012. We crucified him in Newtown on December 14, 2012, and in Boston on April 15, 2013. The list goes on and on, and these are just a few of the more well known incidences.
Every day we crucify Jesus for something we believe in or something we refuse to support – racism, homophobia, sexism, gun rights, jihad, access to mental health care, etc. I’ve had enough, I’m tired of Good Friday. It’s time we stop sacrificing our brothers and sisters, our children, our friends, and even our enemies.
For me, it’s time to remember the real message of Good Friday. It isn’t the horror and the violence, it isn’t anything that was done to Jesus against his will, or that his life was taken by evil humanity. The real message in Good Friday is love. It is what Jesus taught by his example, that “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
If we truly believe in the Easter story, we should be calling ourselves to put an end to the crucifixions, an end to the sacrifices. We are called to love so much that we would willingly lay down our lives for our friends. And who are our friends? The foreigners, the strangers, the undesirables, those despised by others (Luke 10:29-37). Every time a woman is gang raped in India, we have crucified Jesus again. Every time a gay man is imprisoned or executed in Nigeria, we have crucified Jesus again. Every time a woman is beaten by her spouse, we crucify him. Every time a young black man is shot in Trenton, we have crucified Jesus again. Every time a child is caught in the crossfire and considered collateral damage, we crucify him.
If we are to truly honor Good Friday, If we think Jesus’ self-sacrifice was to be the final sacrifice, if we want Good Friday to truly bring redemption to all, we must put an end to the Good Fridays that continue to be suffered by countless people around the world. We must be willing to lay down our lives for our friends.