With Brussels, Holy Week takes on new shape


By Tom Ehrich

Holy Week took on new shape when bombs exploded in Brussels and Mali.

For those of us who follow Jesus, now we can understand more fully his weeping in the Garden of Gethsemane. Humanity is so lost. We can understand his bold feeding and foot-washing at the Last Supper – God loving even his betrayer, even the doubters, even those who would deny him. We can understand the bell tolling on Good Friday, as Jesus died, and humanity shared his death and the deaths of so many innocents on so many Calvaries.

The biding of time on Holy Saturday makes a new sense, as we shut out the pandering and bombast of right-wing politicians and reflect on how deeply wounded God is when the “rejected” lose hope so thoroughly that they turn to violence. Can there be no life and hope when evil carries the day?

Easter’s answer now is revealed as far more – infinitely more – than the victory dance of a single religion. Easter’s answer is that hope lives, mercy lives, humanity lives, God isn’t done with any of us. Easter isn’t a religion’s holy day, it is humanity’s holy day. So are the holy days of other religions. We can no longer pretend that God loves only us. From that arrogant view comes nothing but violence.

The flowers being laid in Brussels, the candles being lighted, the survivors holding each other, the prayers being said around the world – those aren’t tokens of Christianity or Islam or Judaism. Those are bold expressions of belief in the God of all.

Partisans reject any notion that “God welcomes all, stranger and friend.” They want to build their franchises on being the gatekeepers for a jealous, narrow, judgmental and hate-filled God. Bombs in Brussels, however, reveal the utter folly of such religious partisanship. Faith turns to God, not to a bomb-making manual.

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