As human beings we all have some longing to be admired and respected, that is fair enough and we mostly like to fit in with society. This is where we are most comfortable.
It occurs to me then that one of the overwhelming feelings that must have accompanied Jesus through his passion to the cross would have been that of shame. The whole situation is one of utter humiliation.
Shame that he is being executed as a common criminal, his mother and her sister are even there to witness the whole messy affair and he is powerless.
Shame that his human strength was so completely overpowered by the might of the state and religious authorities.
Shame at being publicly derided, ridiculed and laughed at—treated as a fool.
Shame at his broken body on public display in all its bloody mess.
His closest allies and so called friends have abandoned him to this fate—they don’t want to share in this ordeal- they don’t want any part in this shameful scene.
I imagine this is the same sense of shame and powerlessness felt by the innocent people of Myanmar at the hands of their bullying military generals.
It is the same sense of shame that we often hear of in victims of sexual assault—their very personhood violated and trashed—and then the added sense of shame so often recounted—the self-doubt—was I in some way responsible for this?
Again it is the sense of shame shared by the poor and the homeless- why have I failed when all around me seem to prosper?
It is the shame of the slave and the addicted, it is the shame of Judas and of Peter. It is the shame of each of us when we confront our human limitations and come face to face with our own tendencies to selfishness and cheating our small mindedness and our eagerness to look for others to blame for all that goes wrong—scapegoats.
Today on the Cross at Calvary we can bring all of that shameful humanity to hang there with Jesus. Lifted high for all too see, totally exposed in the light of day, killed and placed in a tomb.
Has shame and inadequacy and death won the day?
No we do not believe that- but now is the time for our God who loves all that we are in our limitedness and frailty, to go to work and transform our shame through the power of love into the dignity of victory over death and the powers of evil and darkness.
This we will celebrate in due course but for now it is all in God’s hands.
Fr Joe Caddy
2 April 2021