Passion Week. Death Penalty.
Holy Week is about human violence.
(There is an important theological debate going on, challenging the old notion that it is also about divine violence, which I address in the middle third of The Great Spiritual Migration.)
One expression of human violence is the death penalty. It raises the question of whether the only or best way to combat violence is with violence. On Good Friday, Jesus received the death penalty for his crimes against the Roman Empire. In essence, Jesus claimed that the kingdom or empire of Caesar, based on violence, was opposed to the kingdom of God, which is based on healing, reconciling, and nonviolent love. Its violence and its power were, therefore, illegitimate.
For the last eight years I’ve lived in Florida, where Governor Rick Scott recently attempted to squelch debate about the death penalty (as he has done about global warming/climate change). Here’s a piece I wrote on the subject.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, when Jesus looks over Jerusalem and weeps: “O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! If only you knew what makes for peace!”
This week, may our hearts join with Jesus’ lament: “O Syria, Syria! O Russia, Russia! O America, America! O Florida, Florida!” May we learn what makes for peace!