If you go to Israel they will show you two different … very different … hills called Mount Calvary or Golgotha. One is seen near a very noisy bus station – actually the visitors stand at a fence to look at the hill and thus, overlooking the busy bus station. It has the “feel” of the hill what with the holes that could represent the eye socks and nose cavity of a skull.
The other is within the very ornate Church of the Holy Sepulcher. As you enter this large church the visitor’s line snakes in front of a piece of marble with a hole into which you are invited to place your hand. It is believed to be the place where Jesus’ cross was placed during the crucifixion. Then, just a few steps away, you enter a small shrine that is built over the place of the tomb.
Two very different locations. Two very different experiences. One ornate and governed, or protected as they are fond of sharing, by several different religious orders. One very dirty, very noisy, and in the middle of the hustle of live. Most Holy Land pilgrims prefer the church setting – after all it is special, has a feeling of some place special, is recognized by the church as important and makes for some very beautiful pictures ... the other place not so much.
And yet, I lean towards the hustle and bustle place. Oh, it doesn’t make for good picture taking. It is drab and boring. It is hard to focus what with all of the noise and the honking of horns and the fumes from the buses and the shouting of the crowds waiting for their buses … and yet, isn’t this the very place Jesus’ death on the cross was meant to impact?
If Calvary doesn’t impinge itself on the reality of our daily existence it has no power … no importance … no meaning but, most of us want to religiously purify the cross and the crucifixion. Some how it becomes more acceptable if we place around it the trappings of the church and religious observances. If we place enough gold, silver and tapestry … and always an over abundance of candles … it becomes something that we can handle … and in the long run do not need to change much about our living. But the other one – too real, too raw, too me and you, too much about reality and living.
What did he die for? Just to get us into heaven? Or was there more happening on this Friday so many years ago?
Quote for today: The message of Good Friday is that the dictum of "an eye for an eye" cannot work. The way to conquer evil is through good. Similarly, violence can be overcome only by non-violence and hatred by love. ~Source unknown