What we’ve heard bids us contemplate—
if we can bear it—a horror.
But the atrocity of what was done to Jesus
Is no match for the atrocity of what has happened,
and continues to happen, to humanity—
The cankerous deformity of sin.
In the great film, “On the Waterfront,”
Karl Malden plays a priest—
His character was based on a real priest,
Father John Corridan—
And he preaches a pretty amazing sermon:
“Some people think the Crucifixion
only took place on Calvary.
They better wise up.
“Takin’ Joey Doyle’s life to stop him from testifying
is a crucifixion.
And dropping a sling on Kayo Dugan
because he was ready to spill his guts tomorrow—
that’s a crucifixion.
“And every time the mob puts the crusher
on a good man—
tries to stop him from doing his duty as a citizen—
it’s a crucifixion.
“And anybody who sits around and lets it happen—
keeps silent about something he knows has happened—
shares the guilt of it just as much as the Roman soldier
who pierced the flesh of Our Lord
to see if He was dead…
“Every morning when the hiring boss blows his whistle,
Jesus stands alongside you in the shape-up.
He sees why some of you get picked
and some of you get passed over.
“He sees the family men worrying about getting the rent
and getting food in the house for the wife and the kids.
“Christ is always with you—Christ is in the shape up.
He’s in the hatch. He’s in the union hall.
He’s kneeling right here beside Dugan.
And He’s saying with all of you,
if you do it to the least of mine, you do it to me!”
We could say the same
about what happened two years ago
to Terry Schiavo in Florida.
And is continuing to happen to folks like her.
That woman was not “allowed to die”—
She was murdered:
She was denied food and water through a feeding tube,
They wouldn’t even put ice chips in her mouth.
And that’s a crucifixion.
So many forgotten people.
In our cities: children, street people, ex-cons, addicts;
People in Haiti, Sudan, China and North Korea:
Starved; oppressed, murdered.
Or, to find forgotten people,
We need go no further than the nearest nursing home.
A lot of crucifixions.
What happened on that cross is pretty bad; but it’s over.
But all these other crucifixions are still happening.
What are we going to do?
I don’t know.
But let us resolve that we will not do nothing.
That we will not look away.
That we will not lose heart because of the darkness
And because we feel so alone against a system,
Against the powerful, against a raging mob.
If nothing else, we can stay at the side of Christ
as he suffers in all the crucifixions
that still happen in our world.