For Christians, this is Holy Week. It is the time between Palm Sunday and Easter. It represents the time between the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem where His path was graced by palms and adoring crowds and He was proclaimed the Messiah. It carries on to the Last Supper where the elevation of the Body and Blood of Jesus was memorialized by the blessing of the bread and the wine. Where Jesus warned of the coming betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter. And on to Good Friday where Jesus was arrested, stripped of His clothing, beaten, tortured and condemned to death by Crucifixion. And concludes with the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.
It is a remarkably short week which summarizes the triumph, to tragedy, to glory of the Christian faith. But seemingly lost in these seminal events is the underlying goodness, sacrifice and forgiveness of Jesus. One wonders how we miss all of that in a nation where politicians and media sources that seem to be dedicated to division, denunciation, and destruction. In point of fact, highlighting the hypocrisy of humans, many of those loudly condemning others for the lack of tolerance are among the least tolerant of all. And their rhetoric and their actions demonstrate the hate that underlies the “tolerance and forgiveness” which they demand.
There is rioting, arson, assault and wanton destruction by groups claiming to battle fascism seemingly blinded to the fact that they are today’s fascists. There are civil rights groups financed in significant part by the Jewish community who routinely engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions. There are Islamic groups who preach death and destruction for all that are not Islamic. And there are self-anointed Christian groups who are militantly anti-Islamic as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic. There is a tissue thin entente between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland that awaits a real or imagined slight to reignite ancient hatreds and fire the killing and destruction again. And across the Middle East and Africa governments manipulate ancient tribal hatreds to line there pockets and increase their power. And in every single instance justification for the acts of conflict and terror begin with an accusation of intolerance, of real or imagined affronts, or the ancient sins of others that they believe have not been sufficiently redressed,
In America attacks on Christian churches have been increasing. In the period between 2018 and 2022 there have been over 420 documented cases according to the Family Research Council. Much of that has come since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reported that there have been over 250 attacks on Catholic Churches since May of 2020. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in a report dated April 22, 2022 found that there has been a steady increase in attacks on Jewish synagogues, institutions and people. In 2021 the ADL reported 2,717 such attacks in 2021 representing a thirty-four percent increase. And meanwhile members of Congress and so-called leaders of the civil rights movements routinely issue anti-Semitic rhetoric and condemnation of Israel.
The point here is that we as a people, particularly we as religious people, need to stop mouthing platitudes and start reflecting the teaching of our faiths about goodness, sacrifice and forgiveness. It isn’t an easy path but it is the only righteous path. And you can begin with three simple teachings:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34
“You must be the change you seek in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” Martin Luther King
For two thousand years we as Christians have lectured on the need for peace, love, tolerance and forgiveness. It is high time we stop talking about it and start doing it.