By Michelle Knight, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Each year preceding Easter, Christian communities around the world gather in public places to recreate the story of Jesus’ passion. In dramatic public liturgies, we remember who we are as people of faith and why we believe that even the greatest of evils will not have the last word. Often, in the retelling, this central story is cast in a contemporary context and serves as a powerful critique of social sins in our own times — sins that mirror the powers and principalities responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus in the first century. That is what we, who would be disciples, are called to do – to apply the message of the sacred story in our own lives, times and places.
This is what we attempt in the Economic and Ecological Way of the Cross on Good Friday, April 6. For those of you in the Washington, D.C., area please join us at noon at First St. NW and Constitution Ave. NW as we stop at public institutions to pray for change for social justice. If you are not in the area, please feel free to adapt the readings to your community, which you will find here.
We know that powerful political and economic forces, in a macabre mirroring of Jesus’ journey to the cross, are dealing death in our world by war and by working to the benefit of a privileged few while millions of people live and die in debt and in dire poverty. We touch, we feel, we live the pain of these many excluded ones and we see the brokenness of the earth. Because we are a global church, we are compelled to be in solidarity, to respond.
We are eyewitness to the destruction of our earth. We have stood by in the exploitation and waste of natural resources. Because our planet and all creation are gifts from God, we must care for them and see the beauty of God through them.
We know that the institutional roots of this suffering and devastation are painfully close to home – in government, in transnational corporations, in international financial institutions, in the set of transnational agreements that give shape to economic activity around the world and even in our own religious institutions.
To some of these institutions — often staffed by dedicated and well-intentioned individuals – we come in prayer to name our common guilt, to ask in public for pardon, to call for repentance and transformation.
However, also present in our community are signs of hope -those organizations and institutions that nurture solidarity and action for justice. To some of them we come as well -to pray for courage and strength on the journey toward a better world.