Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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This is the sixth devotion in our Lenten series on the Passion of Christ
Please read Luke 23:13-31 in your Bible.
Jesus is being led away to be killed. There are women following him weeping and beating their breasts. Jesus turns to them, speaks to them, and finally says, "For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" (v. 31 NRSV) Will they demand the extermination of the Jews? Will they bomb Pearl Harbor? Will they force native Americans off their land? Will they massacre ethnic Albanians? Will they turn fire hoses and dogs on demonstrators? Will they systematically, tortuously rape women? Will they live in luxury while the rest of the world starves? Will they ignore the cries of those dying with AIDS in Africa? Will they stand by and watch as children kill children? Will they amputate the hands and feet of the innocent?
They did and they will. Listing the atrocities of humanity could go on and on. There would be no end. Oh, the capability of our evil and the depth of our depravity cause me to shudder. Even now I shudder as I recall some of mine own depravity. Do you know what I did as a child? I had a magnifying glass and I discovered that you could burn things with it if you concentrated the light of the sun into a small point. One day I found several caterpillars and I concentrated the light of the sun on the heads of those bugs. One after another, I burned them alive. It was cruel. It was evil.
We all have such examples of cruelty and depravity in our past. Perhaps yours were not against creation. Perhaps yours were subtler. Maybe you ganged up on the weak kid. Maybe you teased someone. Maybe you joined in the destruction of property or someone's reputation. Maybe you insulted someone who was hurting and vulnerable. We are all (None are excused.) capable of cruelty and evil.
We are all Barabbas. We are the murderers, the rebels, the thieves, and the guilty. We are all condemned to death. We are all Barabbas released and let go because Jesus takes our place. Jesus, the blameless and innocent, goes to die instead of us. All our depravity, cruelty, and evil are heaped upon Jesus, God with us. Emmanuel, God with us, takes on our sin and death, and we are freed. The death of the Innocent is not by compulsion, but by love. It is love that frees.
We are free not to further cruel, deprived evil. We are freed to be as Simon of Cyrene who carried Christ's cross. We are freed to follow Christ in the path of the Cross. We are freed to bear a cross not by compulsion but by love. We are freed to love deeply so that our sacrifices for the sake of the other might point to the love and light of God.
Pray that God reveals to you the crosses you must bear as you follow Christ in the Way of the Cross-in the path of sacrificial love.