Good Friday, 2011
Someone once told me that I have never “accepted” the basic injustice of life. That statement made me very upset and even angry. Through personal experience or by companioning others on their grief journeys I have known a great deal of the injustice that seems to be inherent in life this side of eternity.
I have known, at a very young age, the injustice of war that leaves innocent children hungry, homeless and orphaned. (I have three siblings adopted from Korea, and my mother travelled to Korea and Vietnam several times during my childhood working to bring aid and assistance to the orphans in those war torn countries.)
I know the injustice of old age and illness – cancer and COPD, for example, that leaves good Christian men and women lying in their beds fighting with everyone ounce of strength in their bodies for just one more breath.
I know the injustice of pain heaped upon an already broken heart when a mother learns her children are disabled or have serious medical problems.
I know the injustice of mental illness that strips away not only joy and peace, but at its worst strips away even anger and grief - not just feeling bad or sad - but feeling nothing, a terrible, awful aloneness in the deepest, darkest of pits.
I know injustice and I know it rather well. It angers me!I grieve deeply over it. And then I move on and keep trying to make my little corner of the world a bit brighter.
Rabbi Harold Kushner writes in Who Needs God? that we see injustice. We see it all, but we see it through the eyes of faith. These eyes of faith allow me to put my head down on my pillow at night and sleep. The eyes of faith make it possible for me to walk with hope beside one who is lost in despair. The eyes of faith are grace to me and as essential a source of sustenance as food and water.
It is appropriate to reflect on injustice on Good Friday, I believe. Some years ago I had the opportunity to preview something called The Visual Bible. What I saw was a video version of the Gospel of Matthew. Portrayed here, Jesus was relaxed, funny and playful. When the blind man Jesus healed fell to the ground at Jesus feet in gratitude Jesus tackled him, hugged him and playfully, joyfully tumbled on the ground with him. I love this Jesus . This video showed the Jesus I know. This is the Jesus I sing of when I sing “Every time I look into Your eyes I see a glimpse of what I’ve always wanted to be.” As the story progressed I fell in love with Jesus all over again. I found myself irrationally thinking, “They’re not going to kill him are they? They wouldn’t kill this Jesus – my Jesus. Surely this time the story will have a different ending, won’t it?”
But of course they did kill him. It broke my heart and still does. I cried and cried for the injustice of it all.
Why did he let them do it? Why Gethsemane? He could have changed the ending. I was so grief-stricken and shocked I could never get to resurrection joy with this video presentation of Matthew’s gospel. I was angry. Paradoxically, I was angry with Jesus for allowing them to do this to him. I can accept that kind of anger because someone very wise once told me there is a very fine line between great love and great anger.
On this Good Friday, we are deeply aware of injustice. A veteran from our community is having his disability check garnished by the Federal Government – the whole check, every month – until he has “paid back” the severance pay he was granted upon discharge from active duty.
We read this week that Iowa ranks 48th or 47th out of 50 states for the number of psychiatrists available per capita and 46th for the number of counselors available. In practical terms this means that a person having a mental health crisis has to wait up to three months to see a psychiatrist in some Iowa counties.
The state of the economy and unemployment rate continues to stress families, resulting in continued incidences of child abuse and domestic violence.
The list could go on, as any thinking, caring individual already knows.
There is a fine line between great love and great anger. On that Good Friday so long ago, it seemed like injustice and oppression had won. “The darkest day in history was over. All was lost on the cross. Beaten, battered, bruised beyond description. You gave it all, what went wrong?” (Phillips, Craig and Dean, Saved the Day)
Let your heart sit with this truth and break a little today.