by Judy Coode
Project Coordinator, Catholic Nonviolence Initiative
How easy it would be to ignore the torture and death of Jesus. How simple it would be to celebrate the Resurrection, God’s glorious power, the joy in knowing that eternity in heaven awaits us. But there is no way to Easter Sunday without Good Friday. There is no way there but through, as many of us have realized after years of struggles and challenges.
With his human nature, it is understandable that Jesus tried to find a way out of his suffering. He prayed for weeks, he agonized, he begged for relief. But he accepted the pain and endured the crucifixion, which is our most potent example of nonviolence in action. When we say that we are followers of Christ, we are saying that we too will nonviolently resist the powers that oppress, and that we will accept the consequences of our resistance.
James Douglass writes: “Crucifixion in and of itself follows the logic of total violence. Yet the cross has become … the symbol of nonviolence. … How could the logic of ultimate violence and the reality of a transforming nonviolence ever become linked in one and the same symbolic reality, the cross of Jesus’ crucifixion? To take up the cross is, in Jesus’ transforming vision, to assume the suffering of the oppressed. … Jesus’ vision of life is to take on the suffering of the oppressed not as a passive victim but as one acting in loving, nonviolent resistance, thus risking one’s own crucifixion. …
“The inconceivable change that occurred at Jesus’ cross was that an empire’s terrifying deterrent was transformed through the nonviolent resistance of love, truth, and forgiveness. … The violence of a crucifixion meant to keep total violence in power was revealed instead, to the eyes of the oppressed, as the transforming power of a suffering, nonviolent love.” (The Nonviolent Coming of God, Wipf and Stock Publishers.)
Judy Coode is Project Coordinator for the Catholic Nonviolence initiative, a project of Pax Christi International.