Monday, March 16, 2009

Lenten Voices: Part 1 - He deserved to die

by Jayme Hegelson

My only critique of the other blog postings thus far is that some are far too sunny in their disposition for my current mood. I'd argue that on the whole there is little to be sunny about in this season of least not yet...not for me anyway.

Jesus deserved to die. If he hadn't appeared to ancient Palestine and instead to a modern day world full of people like me, I am convinced we'd still kill him and I think we could be just in doing so.

For the better part of Jesus' life, he did many good works and he told many good stories. As a man he led a life of integrity and genuine love that I use as an example of how I want to live my life. And if Jesus were truly just a man, then I can't believe I could find anything wrong with his conduct deserving of any charge, much less one involving the sentence of death. Here then is my chief rub and the scandal of this man we call a God: That Jesus was and is God and changes everything.

Consider the things this Jesus-God did and more importantly the things he didn't do during his life: Jesus cured the blindness of only a handful of humans during his short stint on Terra Firma. What of the thousand or million other blind men and women he chose NOT to heal in nations he never bothered to visit? Jesus favored a prostitute, honored and showed her a great love by accepting her gifts and conversing with her. But what did he do to address the pervasive system of human sex trafficking that occurred at the time? What was her life like after he left? Was she beaten after her protector and lover left? How much did she bleed in the political chaos and upheaval that have characterized such radical movements in the 20 centuries since? Jesus cast out demons and forgave many their sins. And yet what happened to these poor and destitute afterward? Were they saved only to go on and live a life of slavery in the slums of Jerusalem?

I bring up these things because I truly believe Jesus needs no defense. I don't think he had one or has one to this day. Maybe that's why he let himself be crucified. There is simply no excuse for not saving a life when you had the power to do so. There is no excuse for allowing the generational atrocities the he's allowed to happen in my family and other families in our Parish either. How is it that I bear the marks and consequences of my grandfather and great-grandfather's sins? One of my grandpa's pulled a gun on his family and I'm going to therapy today as a result...even though I wasn't even born when the incident occurred. No, Jesus didn't stay around to better the world enough to prevent such atrocities and abuses. He did enough to prove he was God, even got resurrected to give us this concept of hope, but then he left.

I've heard and know by heart all the counter arguments to what I've said, but I'll still say them. I got a Bachelor's in Theology and Philosophy and am an expert in all the arguments about the 'economy of Grace' and that what Jesus-God did was necessary for our growth and the preservation of our precious human free will. As far as they go, these arguments have much merit. I have great hope in my life precisely because I have experienced the great economy of God's grace. There can be no doubt of this! One might say that my life, marked by the brutal consequences of sins of others and yes even myself, have shaped me into the man I am today. I have gifts of counseling and empathy and love I would have never developed had I not been dealt the cards life and fate and dealt me. But Jesus-God still isn't off the hook no matter what the end result ends up being. No one would dare wish a young child get abused even if one could with foresight and great power transform that ruined life into something special or spectacular. Of course, more often than not abuse and sin don't end up improving any of us. I don't know about you, but I would have never traded a theoretical healthy family for an unhealthy one just so I could experience God's great powers of redemption that i have in fact experienced. That's why grace and the hope found in the resurrection can be no balm for our hurts and our sins. And it must never be an excuse for more violence. This is why God must die; this is why he had to be killed. At some point he would have to answer for the things in his great might and wisdom he did NOT do. He didn't protect me. He didn't shield me from harm. He had the power do to so and didn't. Doesn't matter how good the reasons or intentions were, it is a part of our human DNA, our good human DNA to require justice from any powerful being or agency that doesn't fulfill their responsibility to do no harm and to prevent harm if we can help it.

It is our human duty in the full dignity of our station in Creation to do no harm and to help if we have the power to do so. In his power Jesus failed to do all he was capable of and for this he must be held accountable. It is my belief that this failure of the Jesus-God played a part in the bloody outcome of ancient passion narrative. And so it is that I believe the cross calls us to fulfill our duty to make this world a better place. But more on this later...

Jayme is a is a 30 year-old St. Paul's parishioner hailing from Montana who loves skiing and hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

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