Friday, April 22, 2011

The Gallows

In his Good Friday homily this afternoon our priest asked what we would think if we came to Church and found a noose, a guillotine, or an electric chair above the altar. Would it shock us? Well, yes, it certainly would me. Does a cross or crucifix still shock us? Or do we take it for granted? Are we desensitised to the reality of crucifixion?

I imagined a gallows standing by the altar instead of a crucifix. I thought of how a picture of a hanging, or even an empty noose gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. I think of Nazi victims, of the gruesome image of a corpse left hanging at a crossroads where it would be seen by travellers (as happened in the old days), the horror of life twitching away at the end of a rope. Even the thought of the worst of criminals dangling from a gibbet horrifies me. I hate the death penalty. I can accept the argument for just war, that there are times when a fight to the death is awful but necessary. But execution in cold blood? I can't get my head round it. Another terrible image is the lynch mob. The cruel mob that drags an innocent man to his death, by beating, by hanging, by stoning - or simply causes a miscarriage of justice when the authorities, under pressure and fearing a riot, condemn an accused man unjustly.

And that is the essence of Good Friday. A jeering mob baying for blood. A miscarriage of justice. A gallows. A public execution. Horror and pain.

And God Himself died.

For us.

For me.

Can I truly get my head round that?


PixieMum said...

Your priest has put Good Friday and the events into context so well.

A clear, modern understanding of events.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Karen E. said...

What a great priest, and a great message for Good Friday, and for year-round pondering ....