My GOD, My GOD, why? On Good Friday, it is so difficult to know where to begin. My GOD, My GOD, why have you forsaken me? The Hebrew Psalmist’s cry ought to be enough. My GOD, My GOD, why have you forsaken me? But on Good Friday, which is anything but Good, it is my own selfish cry, “My GOD, My GOD, WHY?” which seems like as good a place as any to begin. But then there is nothing “good” about Good Friday, not even where we begin, which is of course in agony.
So, let us not begin with the “MY” part of this plea for answers, but with the “GOD” part. “GOD” such a little word for the MYSTERY which lies at the very heart of ALL this IS, WAS, and EVER MORE SHALL BE. The MYSTERY in which we live, and move, and have our BEING, the MYSTERY which has BEING in, with, through, and beyond us. The MYSTERY responsible for the creation of the Cosmos and therefore the ONE which must BE BEYOND, the BEYOND, and BEYOND that also;
certainly the ONE beyond any and all words, any of us can utter. This ONE is the ONE to which when all is said and done, when the worst of all possible things happens, this is the ONE to which each of us cry, which in and of itself, make us all ONE. My GOD, My GOD, why?
And so, like his ancestors before him, and those who will follow in his wake, when the worst of all things happens to him, Jesus cries out, “My GOD, My GOD, why?” So, let the reality of the MYSTERY of our GOD, move us beyond the details articulated with mere words, so that we might catch a glimpse of the WHY of it ALL. Why death? Why not just any death, which must come to us all, but why such needless death, at the hands of ourselves, why such violent death? My GOD, My GOD, why? Why violence? Violence the word we use to describe the physical force used to cause injury, damage, or death. Violence we can define. Violence we can know. Perhaps more importantly, violence we can feel. We can feel it when it is applied to our person and worse yet we can feel it when it rises up in us. Violence is all too familiar for violence too has the power to make us one; one in the perpetration of violence, one as we perish from violence inflicted upon us, and one in our fear of violence. Violence disturbs our peace and violence motivates our desire to become strong enough to resist the violence of others. No wonder our ancient ancestors imagined the MYSTERY responsible for Creation as super-heroes powerful enough to save them from violence. My GOD, My GOD, why?
My GOD is bigger than your GOD. My GOD’s violence can defeat your GOD’s violence. My father can beat your father. My GOD will not forsake me. And if your violence is stronger than my violence, it is not because your god is strong than MY GOD, for surely therein lies the despair which leads only to madness, the kind of madness in which we are consumed by our fears. Within our fear is where violence gestates. Surely, any defeat is not down to the power of our GOD, but rather to some offence or other we have given to our GOD, who because of such an offence our GOD has chosen to forsake us. And there you have it, our need to placate the POWER of the ONE who IS. What can we offer to placate the anger of such a ONE? What will return our god to our side, ensuring our victory? What can we mere mortals offer to make atonement with the HOLY ONE?
Questions, heaped upon questions, as one violent tragedy leads to another. Our historians, our archeologists, and our anthropologists can point to the sacrifice of humans to the gods, here, there, and everywhere. Sacrifice which literally means to make holy, “sacrem facere”. To restore to wholeness our relationship with that which is BEYOND our words. So, it is beyond the words themselves to the stories handed down from one fear-filled generation to another that we must turn with the same old question, My GOD, My GOD, why? Why have you forsaken me? us? In favour of them? Our Hebrew ancestors tell the story told to end the violence born of fear’s attempt to sacrem facere. It is a story told by the WISDOM bearers of old to put an end to human sacrifice.
Abraham the Father of nations, learned the difficult lesson of the ONE who IS BEYOND our fear, YAHWEH, the Great I AM, the ONE who will BE. It is a story which was told to put an end to human sacrifice, in which the son Isaac is spared the violent death, the making holy by the offering of a life, the spilling of blood, to placate a DIVINITY which has no need of sacrifice. But the WISDOM of moving beyond our fear, beyond our primitive attempts to placate the ULTIMATE POWER, which the most precious things we can offer, life itself, upon the altar of our fear, the WISDOM of forsaking violence as the answer, was stillborn, killed in us by the very fears which gave it birth.
So, another story is born. A story designed to turn our ways of thinking upside down. A parable if you will. The parable of Jesus. Not a parable told by Jesus. But rather the parable of Jesus. The story of a life and death, for you can’t have one without the other; the story of a life and death told to put an end to making violence holy, the end of the sacrem facere of violence.
As the story is told, over and over again, the GREAT I AM, the FATHER of FATHERS, is cast as both the recipient and the giver, indeed even as the instigator of an act so horrendous in its violence that surely will put an end to making violence holy. For even if the myth of Abraham and Isaac, a myth designed to carry the truth that violence cannot make our fear holy in order to create peace.
For the ONE who we call GOD cannot by refusing such a sacrifice convince us to put an end to human sacrifice, perhaps in the sacrifice of GOD’s own beloved son, we can see the inability of such violence to make anything HOLY. So, the parable of Jesus is told over and over again. A parable created to put an end to violence. A parable in which Jesus lives within the brutality of violence refusing to become violent while all the while pointing to the I AM as ONE who has no need of our sacrifices. For Jesus came not to participate in violence, but that we might have life and live it abundantly. Life and not death.
The choice is ours and we have made it. We choose not Jesus’ life but his death, glorifying the violence, once again we offered blood to placate our GOD. Despite Jesus’ insistence that violence is not the answer. Despite everything Jesus lived for in every act of non-violent resistance, we refused to see that for Jesus, justice is the only way to make things holy.
Justice and not violence is the only way to peace.
In glorifying the violence which killed Jesus, we cannot see the parable of Jesus; a parable designed to move us away from sacrificing human lives to violence born of fear.
Look beyond the violence to the life of Jesus and you will see a human-being struggling to move beyond the notion that violence can save us from what we fear most in life, only LOVE can do that. For if the life of Jesus teaches us anything it is that LOVE conquers fear. Jesus embodied that LOVE, insisting that, “I and the Abba, the Father, are ONE.” You and I and the LOVE we call GOD we are ONE, nothing can separate us from this LOVE, not even death.
The parable of Jesus is the story of a life which embodies LOVE, the LOVE which continues to allure us beyond our fear, beyond our violence, beyond death itself. Jesus saw a DIVINITY which was more than the sum of our fears. Jesus called us to a vision of the HOLY which invites us to forgo violence as the answer to our fear, a vision of the HOLY which offers justice and not violence as the way beyond our fears into the peace we long for.
Like all parables there is a twist, a moment when our expectations are turned upside down. Along the way, Jesus embodies LOVE, calls for justice as the way to peace, and steadfastly refuses to resort to violence no matter how fearful his oppressors become. Jesus’ embodiment of LOVE gives us a glimpse of LOVE’s life in the world. This parable of LOVE in the flesh opens us to the possibility of a new way of being in the world.
The WISDOM is clear, justice must prevail if we are to live beyond our fears. But Jesus’ way of being makes us nervous. For who are we to challenge the power of empire, the biggest baddest perpetrators of violence are all around us? We fear for Jesus’ life. We are afraid that we cannot embrace what Jesus taught us. We long for a superhero to save Jesus from our fear. My GOD, My GOD, why? Jesus the perfect one, why does he have to die? Our fear looms large, and our god becomes small, smaller than the vision of Jesus. Jesus’ vision of the ABBA with which we are ONE, is too much for us to bear. For if we are ONE with the DIVINE then it is we who have forsaken Jesus.
The parable does its work, but we are afraid, so we forsake the parable. We confine the power of the myth so that the truths it reveals can be managed.
We are afraid to embody LOVE, to forgo violence, to seek peace through justice, to be LOVE in the world. So, our fears echo the shouts of those who would “Crucify him. Crucify him” and once again Jesus is sacrificed to placate the gods we have become. The parable of Jesus takes us into the darkness of our very selves, as LOVE dies in us, sacrificed to our fears. The parable of Jesus leaves us with but a glimpse of peace, pointing as Jesus does to a MYSTERY beyond our fear, beyond the power of death itself.
My GOD, My GOD, why? Until we see that we are in GOD and GOD is in us, we will not see that we are the ONES to whom Jesus cries, My GOD, My GOD, why have you forsaken me? Will death have the final word? Can LOVE rise in us? My GOD, My GOD, when will the violence end? My GOD, My GOD when will we put an end to violence born of fear? My GOD, My GOD, why have we forsaken Jesus?
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