St. Mary's Reflection: Natalie Hala, Parish Liturgist
A "Cook's Tour" of Human Evil and the Power of Language
“But this is your hour, and the power of darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:53)
As we approach Palm Sunday and Holy Week, when we will once again hear the Passion narrative playing out in the full brutality of what happens when human collective darkness is cut loose and is allowed to run its own fateful course. The dizzying series of events that ultimately lead to the physical death of Jesus upon the cross provides a glimpse of our own unacknowledged shadows as individuals and the blind spots of our current society.
Specific traits mirroring our own human fragility surface and resurface in the Passion scripture. Human shortcomings personified in these scriptures encompassing fear, pretension, self-importance and an obsessive desire for power have ignited antisemitism against Jesus' own people for centuries and fomented the Holocaust. The hard truth is that the underbelly world that bred this type of venial hatred was never squelched. Incidents of antisemitism in the United States reached record highs in 2022 and, sadly, have become normalized in troubling ways.
John’s Gospel that we will hear on Good Friday was written in the late first to early second century by those who had come to believe that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah who would fulfill the hopes and expectations of the Jewish tradition. After the destruction of the Temple, the two remaining streams of Judaism developed on parallel paths. One path, Jesus-following Jews, wanted to convey a compelling narrative of Jesus furthering their beliefs. What we hear in John is a perspective of a complicated conflict with complex and diverse religious traditions within the context of their own time.
We live in a new era for antisemitism and see Jews becoming a “default target.” Blanket statements about Jews, or any group, particularly in the service of a hostile agenda that seeks to harm or marginalize are to be denounced. Abusing the power of words feeds into shadowy self-interests that allows darkness to seep into the bloodline of our society and become the norm.
As we near Easter Day and live in a world roiled by the rising number of antisemitic incidents, and enmity toward Asian-Americans, transgender or other marginalized groups, we must hold fast to the truth that Jesus’ Resurrection proclaims God’s victory over the forces of human evil. Divine love and compassionate acceptance is intended for all people. No exceptions.
God desires us to be full-time advocates for love. Call out antisemitism, inciteful rhetoric or brazen attacks whenever they happen, advocate for stronger protections from egregious incidents and raise awareness about hate crimes. These venomous acts simply can’t be tolerated by us, the Resurrection people.
If we act as a unified voice, we may even stand a chance to mend the fabric of our society. What could be a better Easter offering to the Risen Christ?