One foot in Good Friday, one foot in Easter-lifes theme
After the accident, somebody told me that that best metaphor that they could think for me was that of Holy Saturday.
They were right.
Holy Saturday is the in-between time, that time when we ponder and experience the reality of death–and our complicity in it–and simultaneously for Christians, we live in the expectant hope that its reality is not final.
It’s a helpful metaphor for all of us who grieve, fear, are overwhelmed. We live in this in-between time, this time where one facet of life seems much more real than the other, and yet for some reason, we keep on going; something says ‘yes’ to us so that we do not choose instead to die.
A question that surfaces, this time of year, is why it was that Jesus had to die in order to live in the first place.
Father Robert Farrar Capon gets to considering this matter with his trademark linguistic flair:
“The true paradigm of the ordinary American view of Jesus is Superman: ‘Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s Superman! Strange visitor from another planet, who came to earath with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle from truth, justice, and the American Way.’ If that isn’t popular Christoloty, I’ll eat my hat. Jesus–gentle, meek and mild, but with a secret, souped-up, more-than-human insides–bumbles around for thirty-three years, nearly gets himself done in for good by the Kryptonite Kross, but at the last minute, struggles into the phone booth of the Empty Tomb, changes into his EAster suit and with a single bound, leaps back up to the planet Heaven. It’s got it all–including, just so you shouldn’t miss the lesson, kiddies: He never once touches Lois Lane.
You think that’s funny? Don’t laugh. The human race is, was and probably always will be deeply unwilling to accept a human messiah. We don’t want to be saved in our humanity; we want to be fished out of it. We crucified Jesus, not because he was God, but because he blasphemed: He claimed to be God and then failed to come up to our standards for assessing the claim. It’s not that we weren’t looking for the Messiah; it’s just that he wasn’t what we were looking for. Our kind of Messiah would come down from a cross. He would carry a folding phone booth in his back pocket. He wouldn’t do a stupid thing like rising from the dead. He would do a smart thing like never dying.”
A smart thing like never dying.
There is a long tradition of teaching that God put Jesus on the cross. This take on the crucifixion has bugged some feminists for some time.
Some fear that it tells of a God who murdered, or allowed the murder, of his own son, and implicitly condones child abuse at a cosmic level.
Others worry that God needed a blood sacrifice in order to be appeased, an image which encourages violence on the way to peace that is maintained only by threat and fear.
And still others are concerned that traditional ways of thinking though Jesus’ death on the cross focus on the relationship of God to the oppressors, and not Jesus’ solidarity with those who suffer.
And perhaps most often, many feminists voice legitimate critique against traditional interpretations of the cross as being the event which sets the stage for women bearing suffering and oppression, just as Jesus did.
But other camps of feminists thinks through matters differently.
Many believe that God did not demand Jesus’ death. We did (a la Capon). Thus the cross is a judgment not against God, but against those who resist justice.
Still others believe that Jesus’ death was not submission to a cruel God, but rather faithful living in the pursuit of reconciliation and renewed relationship with all creation.
And others see the cross as the quintessential expression of relationship between God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, a relationship bound by love, by mutuality, by solidarity, by respect, and by breath.
On this Holy Saturday, the day begs consideration about what me make of the death of Jesus, both then and now; about how the death of Jesus has been misused, and how it could be used differently; about which deaths in our own lives appear to be profoundly real to us, more real than the possibility of life; and where we might see the stirrings of life even in the dark soils of our own griefs.
Peace to you on this Holy in-between day.