26 Mar 2012

XI Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

We adore you O Christ and we bless you,
For by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world

Jesus is nailed to the Cross

'I cannot believe in a God who metes out hurt for hurt, pain for pain, torture for torture. Nor do I believe that God invests human representatives with such power to torture and kill. The paths of history are stained with the blood of those who have fallen victim to "God's Avengers." Kings, popes, military generals, and heads of state have killed, claiming God's authority and God's blessing. I do not believe in such a God.'  (Sister Helen Prejeans' article 'Would Jesus pull the switch?'.) 

The topic of the death penalty or capital punishment always evokes very strong feelings.  The Bible has been used to support and oppose the death penalty.  Those who support the death penalty will argue an 'eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot' (Exodus 21:23) and those against the death penalty will say 'thou shall not kill' (Exodus 20:13).  Jesus himself spoke out against the death penalty when a woman who had been caught committing adultery was brought before him. (John 7:53-58)  Jesus asked those present if they had not sinned to throw the first stone, but no one did.  Jesus did not condemn her and told her to not to sin again.

Jesus was sentenced to death and was nailed to the cross for his crime, even though he was innocent.  What must it have been like for Jesus to carry his cross and then to be nailed to it.  The pain and suffering which he felt as each nail was driven in, must have been excruciating.  He must have felt was abandoned by the people who he loved as his apostles, his closest friends, had run away.

March 1st was International Death Penalty Abolition Day.  The death penalty or capital  punishment is against the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, article 3 states that  'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.'[1]   Amnesty International states that as of December 2010 more than two thirds in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. [2]  In 2010, 23 countries carried out executions and 67 imposed death sentences in 2010. Methods of execution in 2010 included beheading, electrocution, hanging, lethal injection and shooting.[3]

Sr. Helen Prejean passionately advocates the abolition of the death penalty.  Sr. Helen has watched as a prisoner was killed by the state and this has left a profound effect on her.  Below are her thoughts on the execution and not far from her thoughts was Jesus' crucifixion. 

'That night I walked with him, prayed with him through Isaiah 43, "I have called you by your name, you are mine." I played for him the tape "Be Not Afraid," which we had also played at the communion service we had before he died.
In his last words he expressed his sorrow to the victims' family. But then he said to the warden and to the unseen executioner behind the plywood panel, "but killing me is wrong, too."

At the end I was amazed at how ordinary the last moments were. He walked to the dark oak chair and sat in it. As guards were strapping his legs and arms and trunk he found my face and told me that he loved me. His last words of life were words of love and thankfulness. I took them in like a lightning rod.
I kept thinking of the execution of Jesus. I said to myself, "My God, how many times have I looked at that crucifix? How many times have we heard that story? How many times have we heard that Mary was there?"
I was watching a person being killed with an electrical current, in a few seconds. I couldn't imagine what it must have been for Jesus to be executed, hanging there on the cross, dying slowly. It gave me an entirely new awareness of what it means to have an executed criminal as a saviour. What a scandal that must have been!'[4]

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