WITH THE VICTIMS
Neither the power of Rome nor the authorities of the Temple could put up with Jesus’ novelty. His way of understanding God and living God was dangerous. He didn’t defend the Empire of Tiberius, he called everyone to seek God’s Kingdom and God’s justice. Neither breaking the Sabbath law nor religious traditions were important to him: he only concerned himself with alleviating the suffering of the sick and malnourished people of Galilee.
They didn’t forgive him. He identified himself too much with the innocent victims of the Empire and with those forgotten by the religion of the Temple. Executed mercilessly on a cross, in him God is now revealed as identified forever with all the innocent victims of history. To the cry of all these, is now united the cry of grief of God’s Self.
In that disfigured face of the crucified is now revealed a surprising God, one who breaks our conventional images of God and calls into question every religious practice that pretends to give God homage, forgetting the drama of a world where they keep crucifying the weakest and most defenseless.
If God has died identified with the victims, God’s crucifixion becomes an unsettling challenge for Jesus’ followers. We can’t separate God from the suffering of the innocent. We can’t adore the Crucified and go about turning our backs on the suffering of so many human beings destroyed by hunger, wars or misery.
God keeps questioning us from the crucified of our day. We aren’t allowed to keep living like spectators of that immense suffering, while feeding a naïve illusion of innocence. We need to rebel against that culture of amnesia that lets us isolate ourselves from the crucified, shifting the unjust suffering that exists in the world «somewhere else» where all shouts, groans and wailing disappear.
We can’t enclose ourselves in our «society of wellbeing», ignoring that other «society of unrest» in which millions of human beings are born only to be snuffed out in a few short years of a life in which they have only known suffering. It’s neither human nor Christian to install ourselves in security, forgetting those who only know an insecure and threatened life.
When we Christians raise our eyes toward the face of the Crucified, we contemplate the unfathomable love of God, handed over to death for our salvation. If we hold our gaze there, we soon discover in that face the face of so many other crucified people, who far away or right next to us are demanding our love in solidarity and in compassion.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf