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Lenten Reflections: Good Friday 2017

Behold the Wood of the Cross[1]

Emmanuel[2], delivered into our hands.

We blow out the star above a child’s crib—

and raze a teen’s youthful dreams[3]

for boots that fuel death before they are worn

 and garments rolled in blood.[4]


Wiser than Herod, we stop magi at the border now–

to keep the captives bond,[5]

the refugees shrouded in tents,

and Christmas hopes domesticated.


God-With-Us is led away again and again,

like a sheep before the shearers,

a lamb for slaughter.[6]


I am forgotten like the unremembered dead,

I am like a dish that is broken.[7]

I am like the body of yet another girl floating the river

among the felled timber of an Amazonian logging camp.[8]


God sinks into the same tomb as the world’s forsaken;

never to be separated from those we throw away.


Behold the Wood of the Cross.

It is in your Caribbean sugar.


Behold the Wood of the Cross.

It is woven into your Cambodian blouse.


Behold the Wood of the Cross.

Look closely, in between the grain, and see the

men and women,

girls and boys

who fuel the fire by which we warm ourselves.[9]


Peter learns that grace can work with guilt but

indifference will restrain even God.

Emmanuel, delivered into our hands with every child but

the crucifixion underway the basement,

we notice less than the persistent star over the potter’s field—[10]

silent witness over God’s fresh grave.

[1] Louise Kames’ Death (1988) the second piece of a set of three on the paschal mystery and Kevin Bales’ introduction to Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (University of California, 2012) provide the context for this meditation.

[2] Matt. 1:23:  ?μμανου?λ, translated as “God is with us” in the Gospel (New American Bible [NAB]; New Revised Standard Version [NRSV]).

[3] Good Friday Liturgy, Isaiah 52:14, NAB.

[4] Allusion to Christmas Mass at Midnight, Isaiah 9:5, NRSV.

[5] Allusion to Matt. 2:1-11 and Luke 4:18.

[6] Good Friday Liturgy, Isaiah 53:7, NAB.

[7] Good Friday Liturgy, Psalm 31:12, NAB.

[8] Bales, Disposable People, 4-6.

[9] Allusion to Good Friday Liturgy, John 18:18 (also Mark 14:54).

[10] Matt.27:10; Today translated as: Field of Blood (Akeldama); bought with money Judas received for betrayal. A place where strangers/immigrants and were poor were buried; possible reference also to “Potsherd Gate” (Sha’ar Harsith) in Jerusalem (Jer.19:2) where broken pottery was dumped. Also “Dung Gate” or “Refuse Pile Gate” (Neh. 2:14-15).

Art: Death, Louise Kames, Etching and Woodcut, 1988. 

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