The Other Scandal
Good Friday is too solemn a day for blogging, especially about something as ephemeral as politics. But, today, with the Church besieged by scandal I hope that pastors who are called upon to preach will preach about the scandal of the Cross.
We have lost that sense of the Cross. When we see a cross atop a steeple today, it is a sign of propriety, a good neighborhood even, safety. We do not see it as the sign of rejection that it was. Jesus challenged the Law and the Law won; how easy it is to forget that Jesus had it coming, that He had violated the Laws that bound the community together, knowing the penalties for what amounted to blasphemy and sacrilege, and he went right ahead, healing on the Sabbath and disrespecting the Pharisees and Priests.
The apostles? In what Cardinal Ottaviani, at the Council, called the first instance of episcopal collegiality, they all fled.
And God? Jesus spoke of God with great intimacy as His father, even forgiving sins in His name, but that God did not come down and save His own.
And so the founder of our religion, unlike the founders of other religions, did not die at a ripe old age surrounded by loyal followers and acolytes. He died a terrible, gruesome death at a young age and utterly alone.
We celebrate Good Friday in our churches, with the lilies just out of sight in the sacristy or the choir loft. We know that the verdict of the Law and of men rendered on Good Friday was not, ultimately, God’s verdict. It is uncomfortable to think, in this utilitarian culture of ours, that Christian "ethics" and Christian "values" are not the heart of the matter. The heart of the Christian faith is here in these outrageous, extraordinary, profound and – literally – death-defying claims we Christians make, about the significance of this man’s execution. Today, think of Death Row. Today, think of the scandal of the Cross. Today, gaze upon the scandal of a Crucified God. Today, gaze upon the wood which held the Savior of the World.