Friday, 25 March 2016

I am

The "Je suis..." trend that began with the Charlie Hebdo attack can now be seen in Brussels on posters, scraps of paper next to flowers and candles, on T shirts and no doubt on facebook pages. It seems that in the face of atrocity, people feel that fierce need to associate strongly with those affected, to say that because it so easily could have been any of us, thus it touches all of us personally. To say you are  another is in some ways an audacious claim, and through its audacity expresses the strength of solidarity.
It made me think of all the I am statements Jesus is reported as making in John's gospel; on Good Friday the statement "I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep" particularly comes to mind. The concept God crucified, of God incarnate, is an audacious and shocking act of solidarity.  God is allied with the powerless, in effect saying...

I am the suffering
I am the terrorised
I am the victim

At the same time, we need to be careful to avoid a glib sentimentalising of powerlessness or victimhood, the assumption that the victimised group is good by nature of being victimised. It is wrong to murder others because they are human, not because they are somehow better or more moral. Perhaps this is why it seems to me particularly telling that Christ died, not just as the passive, suffering victim but also as the shamed, the criminalised, the deviant, the reactionary, the face not just of the good but the condemned.
If the crucified Christ blurs categories and definitions, the risen one defies them. As Rowan Williams writes, he is no longer a "fellow sufferer", he is victorious but the triumph of Easter Sunday, although golden and glorious is lent for a moment, not fully of this world. Today is Good Friday; we live in the moment of suffering, or in an indeterminate Saturday, coming to terms with the afermath when  nothing is easy to make sense of and suffering simply seems a source of pointlessness, anguish and pain.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say that this was one of the finest sermons for a Good Friday that I have come across for a long time. You got this right where it belongs; in the very heart of things worrying us. This will instead comfort and encourage.

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