Grace and Peace to you.
Christ, though divine,
did not cling to equality with God
but became utterly empty,
born a human,
choosing the place of a slave,
and in utter humility
became obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
—Philippians 2. 6-8
Watch the story, and don’t be lulled.
This is not God’s clever transaction—
to pay the fine with a slug, not the real thing,
or better yet pay in gold coin,
then get it back on a string.
This is not a trade: I’ll give you one Son
for all your stinking guilt,
a free pass for a little blood.
Long as somebody gets hurt, I’m fine.
This is not Jesus’ backroom deal with God,
finding a loophole, sealing a deal.
Don’t be blaming God for this wretched thing.
That’s our cross we set up, our rules.
(I wove that crown. I shouted crucify.)
This is God going up against our violence,
especially the violence we blame on God,
“It was necessary that one should suffer.”
It’s Auschwitz, Selma, Wounded Knee,
Abu Ghraib, oil spills, fires of hell,
every war we ever fought, God bless us,
better living through suffering.
It’s God coming at our politics, our religion,
our economics, our human sacrifices,
over and over our human sacrifices,
our sacred systems of blaming
things on the weak, the strange, the Other,
exposing how neatly we avoid the nails
by nailing others in the name of God and
country, order, righteousness and calm.
It’s God hollowing out our evil by being our victim.
It’s Occupy Death Row.
Once you see, you can’t miss it:
God is the Victim, always the victim.
Behold, the Lamb is God,
who takes away the sins of the world.
If they had realized it was the Son of God
and set him free, embarrassed,
then the Son of God would have been
the other two thieves. Was, in fact.
Still is, every time. Every thief,
every murderer or terrorist,
every one we say ought to suffer.
Every time you judge, you create a Messiah,
the Humbled One. The Unloved One.
That is God. The One who becomes empty
and takes the place of the lowest.
The lowest. Always. All of them.
God is love, not revenge; forgiveness,
not payment for incalculable sins.
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
Watch the story, and see the Suffering One
go up against all violence, all judgment,
all satisfaction with the proper torture,
(anybody but one like me), watch
the Gentle One face our evil,
face our armies and laws and prisons,
our angry mobs, our legislating mobs,
our clerical mobs, our waterboarding mobs,
our shopping mobs, our La-Z-Boy mobs,
face evil in all its presentable outfits,
face them all with the terrible judgment
of forgiveness, with nothing but love, nothing
which, as you watch, it turns out,
dies in the end, miserable and alone,
and alone in all the world able
to change it.
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