Goodies and baddies

joy cowley

If you have listened many times to the Palm Sunday Gospel readings, you will know the hush that descends on the congregation.

It is not the silence of peaceful meditation. Rather it contains the crushing horror of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

Once again, we walk with Jesus to Golgotha and feel helpless as the crowd yells, “Crucify him!”

It’s as though time reinvents itself in our lives and we have to witness the event.

When I was a child, I wondered why Jesus didn’t defend himself.  He could do anything. couldn’t he?

Why did he just stand there in front of his accusers and say nothing?

At 14, I was in a small church choir learning hymns for Easter.

The practise sessions were okay but on Good Friday, when I had to sing “O Sacred head sore wounded…” I started sobbing and ran out of the church.

The embarrassment was awful.

The crucifixion seemed to me like evil overpowering good.

Many years later, a wise priest said in a homily, “Why does God allow evil in the world? We don’t know. It is a mystery”.

I don’t know either.

I am convinced, however, that if we were perfect, we would have no room for growth.

It seems to me that all growth, physical or spiritual, comes from the tension between opposite states.

I think Jesus, the Word made Flesh, knew this.

Years before in the desert, he was tempted by his ego to use his Godlike powers for himself.  He resisted those temptations.

As far as we know, they didn’t come again.

Crucifixion was huge.

This God-man who had lived a life of healing and caring for others, now had to face a horrible death.

It was not surprising that in Gethsemane he prayed for the “cup” to be taken from him.

We can count on our fingers the people who supported Jesus: his mother, a few women from Galilee, the apostle John.

The rest were either scared or hostile.

Why were so many howling for his death?

All I can say is, it was meant to be.

If we take evil out of this violent story, what have we got?

Judas did not betray Jesus.

The Pharisees and Sadducees got on well with him.

There was no crucifixion, no resurrection.

Jesus lived in comfort for the rest of his life and died an old man.

Let’s think about that. Doesn’t it sound like blasphemy?

So why does God allow evil in the world?

I still don’t know.

But I find some of the answers in the Beatitudes.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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