The Very Reverend Todd Donatelli

Good Friday: Violence and Choices

Posted By Todd Donatelli on April 14, 2017

John 19

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” They answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The violence of this day is haunting. For generations we as a species have chosen violence as a course to address our fears and as a course to manifest ourselves over others. This behavior existed long before Jesus and continues to this day. The economic and social foundations of our country were forged in significant part through a violence toward other human beings. The fruit of this continues to impact our lives to this day.

We do well to pause this day and contemplate what is before us. The powers of Jesus’ time see a threat and choose to remove it. Jesus sees a threat and trusts violence is not redemptive, that violence will not save us, even if that trust means his own end.

Perhaps instead of thinking violence to be about other people we do well this day to examine the violence that may exist within ourselves both personally and communally. The Baptismal Covenant helps here: where do we/I struggle to respect the dignity of all persons? Where do we struggle to seek Christ in all persons- who might I/we think is beyond this?

One more question: what life is Jesus offering us when he says, “No one takes my life. I choose to lay it down”?

Blessed Good Friday,
The Very Reverend Todd M. Donatelli, Dean of the Cathedral