They took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them ( Jn 19:17—18)
Anewly appointed inexperienced principal of a catholic college in a conversation proudly said…. The day after the first phase of the election we had 10% of the students and 80% of the faculty present at the college. We kept the class going as per schedule. He went on braggingabout strict rules and discipline that is very necessary. During the entire conversation the Principal never mentioned about learning, understanding the students or about preparing these students for the ever-changing uncertain future. The insistence was on rules and regulations which are laid down, perceived or constructed by known or unknown philosophies of life. Good Friday is a celebration of a change in this paradigm. Jesus gave a new paradigm rooted in love, sacrifice and selflessness.
The society to which Jesus was born was burdened with the interpretation and following of the Mosaic Law in its detail. The people did not matter but the law did. To that society Jesus brought about the commandant of love. Love for God and Love for neighbor. A commandment that is so significant in today’s divisive world.
We live in a society that seems to have lost the capacity to grapple with life’s Big Questions, because of our crisis of faith in truth, reality, reason, evidence, argument, civility, and our common humanity. We seem to move forward with our emotional understanding of the questions in life rather than addressing it with creativity and reason. The people seems to move with a wave to escape from the economic and social burdens of life. The augmenting technology has invaded every aspect of our life including the personnel and family time. It has filled life with distractions and enticement breaking down communities and families and building new boundaries and separations. Yet there are others who have harnessed the power of technology to advance their life for better. Unfortunately their numbers far from many.
Jesus lived and communicated love. Love to all. Defined the neighbor through the story of the traveler…Good Samaritan. Neighbornot in the narrow geographical boundaries but as persons who need love, attention and care. A neighbor not defined by faith, color, ethnicity, language and status. But a person in need. The advent of globalization, communication technology and the road-air connectivity has resulted an upturn in the economy, character, nature and quality of life. The growth in material prosperity, the questioning of traditional values and the influx and outflow of people has created more strangers than neighbors. Strangers within the immediate family itself. It is to that scenario that Good Friday brings a new message of love, sacrifice and selflessness.
Many have worked and sacrificed with multiple voices to build our nation and its infra-structure. We have grown as a nation to be a tree that can provide shade and shelter to others…but sadly, in today’s world, it seems the two things headed for extinction are communicating with strangers and trusting in their innate goodness. Our culture is becoming polarized and all too often focused on talking only to people with whom we share a small view of the world and distrusting everyone else’s view or comment. But the Good Friday calls us to embark on a pilgrimage without the baggage of preconceived notions but allowing us to embrace all from different walks of life. We need to remember that we have a unique spiritual identity provided to us from the ancient times. Good Friday invites us to listento our hearts that are willing to sacrifice selflessly and learn to let go of our baggage and experience,to embrace an empowering vulnerability, to communicate more freely, trust more deeply and love with our whole hearts.
21st Century is powered by technology, fuelled by information and driven by knowledge. Things and attitudes are different now. To adopt the words of Martin Luther King Jr., the church and its institutionsare weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of these institutions, the power structure of the average community is consoled by these institutions silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are. Good Friday is a call to recapture the sacrificial spirit of institutions based on love, if it does not heed, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 21st century. I meet young people whose disappointment with church and itsinstitutions has turned into outright disgust. The revisit to the silence of cross and its adaptation to the current century may help us capture the imagination of the young.
The recent scandals that has rocked the international and national churches calls to question its authenticity, relevance, and spirituality. Within in the church and in religious communities in particular, can notice the celebration of mediocrity and very unhealthy groups, which exert their power in policy and decision making. These groups are clicks formed because of the lack of motivation and promoted by the desire to live a luxurious life. One can easily notice the expensive gadgets and latest styles in the hands of young religious and priests. These young religious or priests often do not know how to harness the power of these gadgets but are often used to engage into deviant behavior. A recent study underway on the use of mobile and internet among the clergy in India is very revealing and intriguing.
The author had participated in the Chrism Mass at a large cathedral built spending couple of crores of rupees and that too inaugurated two years ago. As the solemn celebration began, the electricity failed. It was about 320C and every one including the celebrate was sweating profusely, looking at each other hoping the generator will kick in. But the author learned that there is no generator at the cathedral, for whatever reason, best known to the diocesan administration. Then came an announcement that we need to forget the external environment and need to intently focus on the liturgy. This is the status of the church in India. It really needs to listen to the silence of the cross and recapture its mission to become relevant otherwise, the church as seen today is becoming an irrelevant social club.The focus seems to be on self-preservation, extracting maximum resources from the existing institutions, even by using unfair means. In this scenariothere is no room for creativity, critical thinking and competency. Persons who sing the tune of the administration is placed in positions of power not because of their competency or credentials. Competency and research is pushed to the backburner leading to a slow death.
Death is the great silence ultimately imposed on everyone. We commemorate that Silence on this day. This silence is very different from other silence experienced at the sad demise of many leaders. There is a vacuum created at death but before too long someone else take that place. What we ponder on Good Friday is different types of silence. A silence that is eloquent. A silence rooted in love, sacrifice and self-giving. A silence that is the end of an era and the beginning of yet another era of hope, peace and joy. This silence is the death of meaninglessness and sin. But we remember is a violent and unjust death suffered to bring to an end the era of fear, unjust law and pseudo spirituality. If we are to hear the words of Jesus, said an early Christian writer, we must hear his silence too. On this day we are invited to kneel by his cross with our own pain and sorrow and resist the temptation to ‘solve’ them or avoid them. Only into silence will they pour out their meaning. Through the centuries millions of people have survived terrible Calvaries because they had learnt something utterly profound from the Cross of Christ.Pope Francis reminds us that Cross of Christ, teach us that the apparent victory of evil vanishes before the empty tomb and before the certainty of the Resurrection and the love of God which nothing can defeat, obscure or weaken. Let us wish and pray that within the given context of our country that we carry our crosses collectively and individually, trusting in the Holy spirit,move forward in making our faith:present, relevant, vibrant and alive.