Light and Darkness in battle array! | Daily News

Light and Darkness in battle array!

The Crucifixion with Madonna and Saints Cosimo Rosselli  Oil Painting.
The Crucifixion with Madonna and Saints Cosimo Rosselli Oil Painting.

It was the greatest tragedy ever to have stained the story of mankind. For, according to Christian belief and the Holy Scriptures of the Bible, men laid their hands on the Son of God and murdered him in cold blood on this first ever Good Friday which according to many scholars happened on April 3rd in 33 AD according to the Julian calendar. It was the time when Tiberius Caesar was the Emperor with Pontius Pilate ruling as the Roman governor of Judea in southern Palestine. Phlegon the roman historian mentions a full eclipse of the sun while a data-base kept by a research center mentions a solitary earthquake as well in the year 33AD thus corroborating these extraordinary cosmic phenomena that marked the moment of the death of Christ. The scene at the hill of Calvary to the south of the holy city of Jerusalem at that time enacted for all mankind the vicious drama of light and darkness in battle array. It was an incredible event.

The Wisdom of the Cross

Betrayed by the kiss of one of his closest friends, condemned to death by Pilate, the roman governor of colonial Palestine, scourged at a pillar at the mercy of cruel roman soldiers in a most inhuman manner, crowned with thorns whilst being ridiculed and spat upon and finally having made to carry his own cross, Jesus of Nazareth was pierced in his hands and feet, raised on the gibbet of a cross and left to die in thirst and hunger. It was a time of crude and cruel days when human flesh was cheap! The tender voice of the Jewish prophet that silenced the violent demons who possessed innocent people, the gracious eyes that looked with compassion on sinners and tax-collectors, the healing hands which touched the blind, the deaf and the lepers were nothing now but a battered life-less body hanging on a tree of shame. The one who even raised a man dead and stinking in his grave for four days, was himself a victim of his own death. But, it was the story of the Eternal Galilean from Nazareth which stormed the heart of the world for the last twenty centuries. This strange sign of contradiction is to this day the greatest paradox in our hearing.

Christian belief and religion do not shy away from this humiliating event that featured in the last days of Jesus Christ. In fact, from the very beginning, the Cross of Christ was seen as the source of divine teaching that transmitted wisdom and the path of liberation to mankind. St. Paul, once an ardent and a radical Pharisee who persecuted the first Christians long before Nero unleashed his ruthless spree of killing on the followers of Jesus in the imperial city of Rome at the Collesium, emphatically teaches the people of the ancient middle-eastern city of Corinth, that he offers no other wisdom and spiritual knowledge other than that of the cross, which is a scandal to his fellow-Jews who looked for signs and foolishness to the gentile Greeks who were looking for just secular and worldly wisdom. He challenges the would-be Christian to be ready to live the spirituality of the Cross by crucifying their evil works, burying them in the tomb of Christ and be risen like him to a new life of truth and righteousness.

Evil Leadership and Hypocrisy

If there is anything that shows us the drama and the ugly nature of sin that defaces human beings and makes them dehumanize themselves of their dignity and grace, it is the echo that comes from the cross of Calvary calling people to live in truth and integrity.

Good Friday, which registered in the history of crime, the murder most foul, was a sheer condemnation of the hypocrisy and crafty behaviour of the religious authorities of that time, the weakness of political and civil authority to act in justice towards the innocent as well as the social trend even in our time of the manipulation of public opinion in misguiding the masses.

It took only a few days for the masses which thronged the city of Jerusalem to hail Jesus of Nazareth as the Messianic King with their chorus of hosannas only to be stirred to cry for his crucifixion when misled by the authorities. One can raise the question as to whether masses are always deciding the right-way, acting freely and under no compulsion when under pressure from those who can easily wield their influence on them and manipulate them to their benefit!

The story of Jesus of Nazareth did not end with his crucifixion. Being divine, man could not snuff life out of him. Though he was subject to physical death like any mortal, for he was truly human, yet he could crush the powers of death and rise from the tomb where he was laid, the third day after his murder. The Resurrection from his tomb, changed the story altogether and took a new turn to usher in to his followers an aura of hope and courage. The Risen Lord would appear to them alive not however without the marks of his nails and wounds, driving home the fact that he was no ghost or phantom or dream in the minds of his followers, but one fully alive with a body glorified and not anymore subject to pain, death and decay. The tree of the cross has actually being transformed by him to a Tree of Life with life-giving fruit that gives the taste of the divine and injects fragrance and freshness to the battered lives of those who struggle with evil in their efforts to be wholesome and virtuous. It brings enlightenment to all who gaze at its light. The mystery of the cross is as real as the mystery of evil that hangs over mankind and its world.

The Culture of Death Today

Good Friday’s event is re-enacted every time an innocent man falls a helpless victim to the conspiracies of malignant social forces. It is repeated in situations with ideologies and political systems that oppress religious movements. It flies in the face of the wisdom of wise men, sages and philosophers who give us deeper insights into the mystery of life and its socio-cultural vicissitudes. Even in the very words of Jesus Christ himself, when the people remain naked without being clothed, the hungry left uncared with their daily bread denied to them, the prisoners are crushed by loneliness in their cells without being visited and continue to languish without trial, when truth is hidden from the hearing of those who have the right to information and the status-quo is veiled from those who yearn to see the truth – these are the modern stages of Calvary’s drama today.

The workers, peasants and labourers in the grips of their heartless landlords and employers are vivid classes of social oppression. There is also the slaughter of innocents through tribal war-fare, ethnic tensions and armed struggles. An entire nation can suffer unjustly due to lack of transparency and accountability on the part of those in the seats of power. Structural fraud, greed and corruption can weigh heavily on an entire population to which social justice is denied. Terrorist violence and other social evils such as drugs and arms trade can hold entire nations to ransom. The worst forms of crucifixion today are seen in exploitation of children and women and in the crimes against the life of the unborn through abortion and the killing of the old through euthanasia. These evils bring to our modern civilization a vicious culture of death.

Hence we begin to perceive that the drama of the first Good Friday that took place in the city of Jerusalem in the centuries gone by, doing away with the One who went about doing good, might just turn out to be a daily occurrence that blinks in our sight.

It will come to a halt only when illusions cease to prey on people, human dignity of every person is respected and preserved and the forces of goodness and love are unleashed to heal a world of evil.

All forms of modern crucifixion will end only when people rise to a new life of justice and solidarity in which peace is possible.

This spiritual transformation must take place both in the personal, socio-cultural as well as in the political and civil spheres of life. It will be the day when death in all its forms, physical, mental and social, will be replaced by a culture of life and a civilization of love. Such is the echo that reaches us as we behold and gaze at the divine light and enlightenment cascading from that Tree of Life, the first-ever cross raised on Calvary’s hill, on history’s first Good Friday.



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