This occasion is important to me. In recent years, I’ve instituted the practice of starting the stations of the cross prayers so that at 8am, I am exactly at the prayer for when Jesus Christ died on the cross. I live in the eastern coast of the United States so that means a 730 start time for prayers is necessary to be on Jerusalem time.
It kind of works out that the Merc is closed. After all, it is an impactful historical moment we observe.
The occasion also serves as somewhat of a lesson to me about human nature. Whether we like it or not, there’s a part of us that is attached to our ego. I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing because it in turn allows us to feel out and reconcile ourselves with our own self-esteem and that’s really important. The reason ego is such a focal point regarding this holiday is because whether you believe in the story (or the man) or not, the crucifixion is a cautionary tale of hurt pride amplified one hundred times over.
You have Christ, performing miracles, being dope as hell and then you have these old hater ass council elders from the Pharisees that see him as a threat to their power. When Jesus starts talking about loving/accepting everyone – a radically different lesson from what the elders are teaching – it creates problems, to say the least. I can think of about a dozen times where I have seen this situation played out, either with me being the challenger to the “elders” and with me being on the other side with incumbent viewpoints. What it boils down to is that: you can’t be the number one guy or the golden child without having to forge alliances and giving people a reason to stay by your side. Metaphysical rewards only work for a short time. After that, practicality sets in and – for brevity’s sake – people have got to eat. And that’s exactly what happened. Everybody was cool when things were quiet, singing songs, talking about being faithful and stuff but when those Romans stepped in with the Pharisees everybody said “f—————–ck this sh-t” and straight up bounced. “…wha? who? Jesus what? ….I don’t know him….I just met him like yesterday dawg…..we don’t talk yo….yeah he my cousin’s sister’s friend from high school but I don’t fuck with him bro…” etc. (To be fair, I’d be out too. I ain’t tryin to get my ass crucified. Maybe if Jesus made me into like Luke Cage or something, sure I’d stay!)
Now Christ, being the son of God, knew this going in (i’m positive). He knew that he was going to get crushed and he knew he was going to have to go through the ignominious process which would lead to his crucifixion. He knew all those things. But he also knew that he was the son of God and that no matter what, he was going to have some type of recourse. Of course, this isn’t to say that his road wasn’t painful – that’s what that Mel Gibson movie was all about. I’m just saying that I don’t have the luxury of being the son of God and being able to go to Hell for 3 days and just chill there and then get back up on Sunday morning.
This is why I cringe a little bit when people are like “you gotta carry the cross and suffer”. As far as I know, the people who say that the most are the ones who don’t really have that much of a cross to bear. But I don’t want to digress too much on that path because I want to stay on the path of myself. When I pray the stations of the cross leading up to the part of Jesus’ death, I just think about how much pain (physically/mentally) and how much humiliation he suffered in those violent 12 or so hours knowing that if he wanted to, he could waste an entire empire with a word from his lips. I have my own mental visions of what happened and none of them are pretty. Additionally, the reality of that day was probably far more brutal.
But yeah, as much as it is an observance, it’s also a lesson for me – a cautionary tale, if you will. We can see the dissonance of “crowd wisdom”, ego being exercised as power to protect itself, and what happens when you go against both. For Jesus Christ, it was a big deal so as far as his commitment to us. But I’ll tell you, if I ever went through that – it’d be a wrap for me. I’d be dead so badly I probably would have to wait until we evolved into space-faring aliens before I could get on the line for a life re-do. And that’s IF I was chill enough to want to save the world. If not, I don’t know….I’d be cracking skulls son.