During the hours and days that followed the attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, people around the world were suddenly Parisian, resolutely defying forces that would have humanity cower in fear and descend into chaos so that extremists might impose their misguided solution du jour.
Suddenly, the whole world professed to be Charlie (“What you did to Charlie, you did to me.”) Standing in solidarity, arm-in-arm, identifying with a newspaper they never read and people that they never met, the outrage was as robust as if a friend or family member had been slaughtered or subjected to some outrageous injustice. Charlie Hebdo would rise from the ashes and become the stuff of legends.
Almost two millennia earlier, something similar happened, but with a very different twist. All of humanity was threatened and one man decided to stand in resolute defiance of daunting forces. He took a bullet, so to speak, so no one would feel alone in face of suffering and death. His name was Jesus the Christ. Slowly, very slowly, people around the world called themselves Christian, I am Christian, they professed loudly in all the languages of the world.
Some people still do, though the numbers have dropped. Imagine if they said instead, I am Jesus. In solidarity with the baby born in poverty, an even-tempered teacher, a forbearing friend, a generous and forgiving neighbour who had been savagely beaten, cruelly tortured and senselessly killed. But that would require us to touch his flesh, look into his eyes, and hear his words like Mary who “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” (Lk2:19). Indeed, we would have to really identify with Him, not just praise Him.
The bonus is that by identifying with Jesus, especially during Holy Week, we come to better understand how he identifies with us today in our distress. He gets us. He gets the threat and our feelings of helplessness. He gets our desires and disappointments, our fears and our foolishness. But he gets more than that. He also gets our beauty and our joy, our desire for goodness and our passion for love. He gets us more than we get Him and that we even get ourselves.
Good Friday Reflection 2020
Illustration: Paul Gauguin, Le Christ jaune