Jesus’ Death: Weekly Summary

Jesus’ Death

Summary: Sunday, April 14—Friday, April 19, 2019
Holy Saturday

The image of the scapegoat powerfully mirrors and reveals the universal, but largely unconscious, human need to transfer our guilt onto something (or someone) else by singling that other out for unmerited negative treatment. (Sunday)

Jesus takes away the sin of the world by dramatically exposing the real sin of the world (which is ignorant violence rather than not obeying purity codes); by refusing the usual pattern of revenge, and, in fact, “returning their curses with blessings” (Luke 6:27-28); and, finally, by teaching us that we can “follow him” in doing the same. (Monday)

I believe we are invited to gaze upon the image of the crucified and to realize that God the Father suffers with Jesus. This softens our hearts toward God and all of reality. We see that God’s heart has always been softened toward us, even and most especially in our suffering. This softens us toward ourselves and all others who suffer. (Tuesday)

Twice a year we pause these reflections to ask for your support. Take a moment to read Michael Poffenberger’s message about how you can help us keep Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations free. (Wednesday)

The authors of the New Testament . . . . see [Jesus’s execution] as the domination system’s “no” to Jesus (and God), as the defeat of the powers that rule this world by disclosing their moral bankruptcy, as revelation of the path of transformation [dying and rising], and as disclosure of the depth of God’s love for us. —Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan (Thursday)

Jesus’s passion for the kingdom of God led to what is often called his passion, namely his suffering and death. —Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan (Friday)

 

Practice: Darkness of the Tomb
Anyone who enters into love, and through love experiences inextricable suffering and the fatality of death, enters into the history of the human God, for [their] forsakenness is lifted away from [them] in the forsakenness of Christ, and in this way [they] can continue to love, need not look away from the negative and from death, but can sustain death. —Jurgen Moltmann [1]

As I shared earlier this week, Jesus replaced the myth of redemptive violence with the truth of redemptive suffering. On the cross he showed us how to hold pain and let it transform us rather than project it elsewhere. I believe one of the greatest meanings of the crucifixion is the revelation of God’s presence in the midst of suffering. God suffers with us.

Even when we may feel alone and abandoned, as Jesus did on the cross—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)—we can trust that divine love is holding us. Thankfully, we know the end of the story from the beginning, that after death comes resurrection, after injustice comes liberation, after wounding comes healing. But we can’t skip over the darkness of the tomb.

On this Holy Saturday, before the joy of Easter morning, befriend and be close to sorrow, whether your own suffering, that of a loved one, or the pain of creation. In this liminal space of waiting and the unknown, as poet David Whyte writes, let “the night put its arm around” you.

Last night they came with news of death,
not knowing what I would say.

I wanted to say,
“The green wind is running through the fields,
making the grass lie flat.”

I wanted to say,
“The apple blossom flakes like ash,
covering the orchard wall.” 

I wanted to say,
“The fish floats belly up in the slow stream,
stepping stones to the dead.”  

They asked if I would sleep that night,
I said I did not know.

For this loss I could not speak,
the tongue lay idle in a great darkness,
the heart was strangely open,
the moon had gone,
and it was then
when I said, “He is no longer here,”
that the night put its arm around me
and all the white stars turned bitter with grief. [1]

References:
[1] Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God (Harper & Row: 1974), 254.

[2] David Whyte, “News of Death,” River Flow (Many Rivers Press: 2007), 313. Used with permission.

For Further Study:
Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge: 2008)

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019)

Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008)

Image credit: Lamentation of Christ (detail), Andrea Mantegna, 1470-1474, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: I believe we are invited to gaze upon the image of the crucified and to realize that God the Father suffers with Jesus. This softens our hearts toward God and all of reality. We see that God’s heart has always been softened toward us, even and most especially in our suffering. This softens us toward ourselves and all others

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