by Tom Cordaro, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me…” (John 19:11)
The gun or the cross: Which is the source of true freedom? Which is the path to a life that is fully human and fully alive? For those who live at the heart of empire, who are born into power and privilege denied to others because of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national origin, the gun guarantees the status quo. For those denied power and privilege, the gun represents the desire to seize control, to upend the status quo, and to replace the overlords.
Good Friday poses a choice: Do we put our trust in the power of redemptive violence (the belief that peace can be gained through violence) or the power of redemptive suffering (the belief that peace becomes possible through the practice of reconciliation and unconditional love at personal cost)?
The NRA and the military-industrial complex spend millions of dollars lobbying for the virtues of redemptive violence. But the way of the cross, practiced by believers for over two-thousand years, has thwarted the plans of armies and empires. The cross also reminds us that victory does not come without costs, and those costs must be borne by those who pick up their cross to follow Jesus. Those who trust in the gun are prepared to kill and destroy to achieve victory. Those who embrace the way of the cross are prepared to sacrifice their lives to achieve victory.
- What would it mean to pick up your cross and follow Jesus?
* This reflection is from Embracing Possibilities: Reflections for Lent 2014.