By: Chad Hyatt
Reflection—v. 34 ‘the city that kills’
Once we understand that part one of the cross-story actually begins as we start to follow Jesus in mission, now it is time to talk about the cross-story, part two: ‘the city that kills.’ Or as George Lucas called it, ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’ This is the part of the story that we mistakenly assume is the whole story. This is the Passion narrative: the triumphal entry to Jerusalem that turns far too quickly into a lynch mob, the solemnity of the Last Supper, the betrayal and denial and abandonment Jesus endures, and finally the horrors of the crucifixion. But what happens here—the cross itself—is a direct reaction to the mission of Jesus. Confronted with Jesus’ liberating work that calls all of us to life, the powers-that-be—the systems by which we have organized ourselves—resist liberation and life. That’s a hard word for us to accept. It’s a lot easier to point our fingers and blame someone else. But the truth is, though we cry out for life, when challenged by the claims of life, we rebel and side with the ways of death. As Jesus says, Herod will have to wait; the saga of the prophet simply cannot end outside of ‘Jerusalem’—a stand-in for all the ways we have become reflexively turned in upon ourselves, falling into a kind of unwitting idolatry. The ‘city that kills’ isn’t over in the Middle East. It’s right here, in our own cities and gentrified neighborhoods. Yes, it’s here in our own churches and organizations meant for social good and help. And yes, it is here, inside each one of us: addicts and sinners, entitled and privileged, oblivious to our own shadows, hypocrites pointing out a speck in the eyes of others and ignoring the lumber yard in our own eyes. The city is us, crying out for life—and killing it when it invites us to leave our own well-appointed tombs.
Prayer O Lord, call us again to the succor of your wings.