Jesus as Scapegoat
Forgiveness demands three new simultaneous “seeings”: I must see God in the other; I must access God in myself; and I must see God in a new way that is larger than an “Enforcer.” (Sunday)
Jesus showed us how to hold the pain and let it transform us, rather than pass it on to the others around us. (Monday)
We are all tempted to project our problem on someone or something else rather than dealing with it in ourselves. (Tuesday)
An utterly new attitude (Spirit) has been released in history; it’s a spirit of love, compassion, and forgiveness. As Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Wednesday)
Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. (Thursday)
The cross moves us from the rather universal myth of redemptive violence to a new scenario of transformative suffering. (Friday)
Practice: Standing at the Cross
Picture yourself before the crucified Jesus; recognize that he became what you fear: nakedness, exposure, vulnerability, and failure. He became sin to free you from sin. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21.) He became what we do to one another in order to free us from the lie of punishing and scapegoating each other. He became the crucified so we would stop crucifying. He refused to transmit his pain onto others.
In your imagination, receive these words as Jesus’ invitation to you from the cross:
My beloved, I am your self. I am your beauty. I am your goodness, which you are destroying. I am what you do to what you should love. I am what you are afraid of: your deepest and best and most naked self—your soul. Your sin largely consists in what you do to harm goodness—your own and others’. You are afraid of the good; you are afraid of me. You kill what you should love; you hate what could transform you. I am Jesus crucified. I am yourself, and I am all of humanity.
And now respond to Jesus on the cross, hanging at the center of human history, turning history around:
Jesus, Crucified, you are my life and you are also my death. You are my beauty, you are my possibility, and you are my full self. You are everything I want, and you are everything I am afraid of. You are everything I desire, and you are everything I deny. You are my outrageously ignored and neglected soul.
Jesus, your love is what I most fear. I can’t let anybody love me for nothing. Intimacy with you or anyone terrifies me.
I am beginning to see that I, in my own body, am an image of what is happening everywhere, and I want it to stop today. I want to stop the violence toward myself, toward the world, toward you. I don’t need ever again to create any victim, even in my mind.
You alone, Jesus, refused to be crucifier, even at the cost of being crucified. You never asked for sympathy. You never played the victim or asked for vengeance. You breathed forgiveness.
We humans mistrust, murder, attack. Now I see that it is not you that humanity hates. We hate ourselves, but we mistakenly kill you. I must stop crucifying your blessed flesh on this earth and in my brothers and sisters.
Now I see that you live in me and I live in you. You are inviting me out of this endless cycle of illusion and violence. You are Jesus crucified. You are saving me. In your perfect love, you have chosen to enter into union with me, and I am slowly learning to trust that this could be true.
Gateway to Silence:
Father, forgive them.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Jesus: Forgiving Victim, Transforming Savior,” Richard Rohr on Transformation, Collected Talks, Vol. 1, disc 1 (Franciscan Media: 1997).
For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, CONSPIRE 2016: Everything Belongs (CAC: 2016), MP4 video download
Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 2001)
Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008)