Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Friday - soldiers cast lots for his clothes

Rome was a cruel, cruel empire. Though they did not invention crucifixion, they perfected it. I don't know if it was sheer indifference born of familiarity with the suffering of others, or the sort of dehumanisation that the Japanese had for prisoners of war, and that many seem to do to asylum seekers today.

Beneath the cross, while a man died slowly and horrifically, soldiers cast lots for his clothing. Mocked as a pretend king, this man Jesus had sought to bring a nation back to its God, to forsake violence, repression and exclusion. Not in favour of lawlessness, or lack of a desire to see people holy, but because of love the gates of heaven were flung wide open. And now, on a Roman cross, was the way through that gate. And soldiers cast lots for his clothes.

The Germans took everything from those they condemned to die in the gas chambers. Their clothes, their money, their gold teeth. From the cold emptiness of the executioners to the banality of those who sorted the money of different currencies and took it back to Berlin, evil took many forms. Just as it does today, in many ways great and small. On that day, soldiers cast lots for his clothes.

We can be banal, complicit, violent. Or we can turn away from these things and embrace a man whose clothes were part of an ancient game of dice.

We cannot be silent anymore, about the evil in our own hearts, about the evil in treating people like things, about the evil of closing boarders to those in need, about the evil of destroying hope for future generation. Lest we cast lots for the clothes of those with little else. Less we be soldiers, casting lots for the king's clothes.

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