Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

They “were trying to kill Him.” What strange words these are! And yet – are they really so strange? Remember the schoolyard, that most savage of battlefields – and the terror that “the big kids are going to kill me”? Or that gang of little monsters waiting around the corner, waiting to “kill you” as you were ambushed on the way home?

Perhaps these things didn’t happen in the nice lawny suburbs of America, but in the streets of the New York area where I was raised, they were everyday fare. But I’m not being quite honest: the human heart conceals murderous desires, the prophet Jeremiah tells us the heart is “wicked above all things.” And so violence and death are a threat to us from the very first moments of our existence, everywhere.   Given the resources, we air-brush the world, we color the human jungle in pastels. But if one lives long enough, and is honest, well, it is a jungle. Savage beasts in the night.

And that is why Jesus matters. Because He came not as Mr. Nice Guy, not as Mr. Success; He did not know how to “make friends and influence people” and He certainly did not follow the steps of successful people, nor did He create an “amazing parish”. In act, He was denied and betrayed by His closest followers, and died a lonely death, rejected by every group around.  No: He was real, He was love, He was of God. He came with nothing but goodness, but that was a harsh light turned onto the human scene.  He revealed that which is in the human heart not to shame or accuse – but to exorcise and heal. Which is why as we go through Lent, we follow Him on the way to Calvary, where He will be crucified by those who “were trying to kill Him.” Yet – He will rise. To vindicate all the just witnesses of human cruelty and oppression back to Abel on to the last martyr crucified by the electronic media and successful administrators, Roman or American.

March 11th, 2016