For many people Holy week means making an effort to spend a little extra time in prayer and reflection on the final events of Christ’s ministry, his passion and crucifixion. Now however, ever since the last two presidential elections and the beginning of the Covid tyrannies, something has definitely changed in the tenor of the Church’s liturgical seasons.
When it comes to today, it seems like the meaning of Good Friday had been drowned out by the bad news of the legacy media. It used to be that they would feature content about say, Holy Week in Jerusalem or some local church or charity making preparations to feed people on Easter, but now? Now it seems that they have moved onto producing their own competing passion narratives. Not just to garner the clicks and views they so covet, but also as a way to further dilute what’s left of Christianity’s influence in our culture.
Two Passion Narratives on Display
Two recent stories in particular highlight this trend. The first was the Nashville school shooting, where as expected the media reflexively decried “gun violence” (as opposed to all the other kinds), called for more gun laws, and even (as is now de rigeuer with mainstream new sites) obscured the identity of the shooter because she was a member of an officially designated “marginalized” class of people. However, what was unexpected was how extreme the reporting was in portraying the shooter, who was transgender, as the true victim of this terrible event by the media, politicians, and other activists. Meanwhile, the lives of the six victims might’ve been mentioned at the same time their deaths were unpologetically blamed on Republicans and anyone else who doesn’t fully support the Left’s trans agenda. There was even a trans Lutheran pastor who joined the fray and compared “the Pharisees’ treatment of Jesus to politicians who make laws against drag shows and transgender players in sports.”
The second news story that was turned into a competing passion narrative was of course the indictment of Donald Trump in New York City. Ignoring the risks of setting a dangerous precedent for our republic by indicting a former president on spurious charges (especially ones that had already been thrown out by a federal court), the Democrats and their reporters in the legacy media are once again crafting a narrative to further their political goals. With cries of “protecting our democracy” to “no one is above the law,” the progressive-left culture in this country has lost all pretense of principle and don’t even try to hide their elation at finally being able to bring down the man who stole the election from them in 2016
Experiencing the Passion Past, Present, and Always
At the Last Supper, Christ offered up bread and wine as a sign of a new covenant and told his apostles to “do this in memory of me.” The Greek work for “memory” is anamnesis which means far more than recalling something, but instead means to make some past event present and alive in the here and now. This is the key to understanding the Church’s teaching that the bread and wine become the true body and blood of Christ, as during the mass “the veil of time is torn open and we kneel in the presence of that divine moment.”
In this way, the power of Christ’s life, passion, death, and resurrection are made sacramentally present for us so that we can do more than just know or act out our faith, but experience and participate in it so that (in the words of St. Paul), “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” A life of grace that we live out from moment to moment as we go about our daily lives. It from this perspective that the two aforementioned stories seemed grimly appropriate for Holy Week and today, Good Friday. Not just because they reminded me of certain gospel events, but because at a deep instinctual level (i.e. the Sensus Fidei) there is just something so spiritually subversive about them.
In the gospels, the Pharisees had seen our Lord drive out demons, cure a man born blind, and raise Lazarus from the dead on the fourth day. So at some level, some of them had to have known the truth of who Jesus was. Yet for whatever reasons they allowed themselves to be swayed by Caiaphas who said that it was better for one man to die so that the Romans would not “destroy both our holy place and our nation.” When it comes to our recent news cycle, a CNN poll purportedly shows that at the same time almost 60% of Americans approve of the charges being brought against Trump, as many as 76% nonetheless admit that the charges are politically motivated. Thus in the same way the Pharisees chose to maintain their own power and position in spite of what they had seen, it seems that large swaths of Americans are fine with political prosecutions, if it means protecting “our democracy.” In fact, as a strange aside, “capitol city” archbishop and cardinal Wilton Gregory once played the part of Caiaphas when he got confused about which kingdom he was supposed to be a citizen of when he called the capitol building "sacred ground.”
Later, after his trial at the Sanhedrin, Christ is brought before Pontius Pilate where even Pilate is dubious of the charges against him. Nevertheless, when Christ tells Pilate that he came to “testify to the truth,” Pilate asks his famous question, “What is truth?” When he offers the crowd the choice to free either Barabbas or Christ, the Pharisees and their supporters shout “we have no king but Caesar” and demanded that Barabbas be freed and Christ crucified. Then, like your average politician worried about reelection, he washes his hand of the situation and condemns our Lord to his death.
Today this is played out in every indifferent and insufferable politician who is aware of workable solutions to school shootings or have reservations about weaponizing the law enforcement, but who nonetheless wash their hands of following through on making those hard decisions. They do so because they fear the clamor of crowds which are increasingly being composed of smaller but louder groups of grievance mongers. This was evident after the Nashville shooting when the Democrats and the legacy media turned a cold shoulder to the victims and instead lionized their own “Barabbas,” the trans shooter. To them, she, and not the victims of the shooting, was the real martyr and already she is inspiring others like her to arm up for another confrontation.
A Choice of Two Roads to Golgotha
Venerable Fulton Sheen once stated that the horizontal bar of the cross represented death and the flatness of this world’s affairs that go on and on but never arrive at an end (a telos). The vertical post, according to Sheen, represents life because it was stuck in the ground where the dead are but is also pointed towards Heaven and eternal life- so it connects the two.
When looking at the world affairs and how they are being portrayed to us, it is clear that we are being given a choice about how we see them. For make no mistake, the fallout of the indictment of Donald Trump and the mustering of the LBGT militias and other alt-left hate groups have only begun. Thus we are seeing and being offered two spiritual paths to Golgotha on this Good Friday. One path is the ever-present passion of our Lord who is “the way, the truth, and the life” and who carries the weight of our sins to his death, so that we may have eternal life. The other one is the world’s path, one that is broad and easy-going but which leads to confusion, lies and death. It is a counterfeit Golgotha that rejects the word of God and instead upholds the demonic babble spewed by the false religious and political leaders of this world. Leaders who are willing to sacrifice “the truth and the life” in order to uphold and hold onto the events and outcomes of this world with all their hearts, all their soul, and all their mind.
Sheen saw these two paths as well in the two criminals who were crucified with our Lord, one of whom wanted “to be taken down" so he could go on being a criminal, while the other "wanted to be taken up” so that he could be with our Lord. On this Good Friday then let us resolve to chose the right path to follow, the high road that leads up to “life and life abundantly” and not the horizontal one which “seemeth just to a man, but the end thereof leads to death.”
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