by Eli Rolón Jeong
#BlackLivesMatter: A Gospel Reading
Jesus told his friends: “No one knows when they’ll come for you. Stay alert but calm for they might get you suddenly. I will tell you, like I tell everyone else: stay woke!”
Every day, Jesus did this. That was his job. He spent many days teaching in front of a building. At night, he would go to the park and chill with is his friends. Everyone would go hear him speak wherever he was. People knew that he would be there. And they missed him whenever he was somewhere else.
But the police and state officials were afraid of him and the people so they began looking for reasons to kick Jesus out of the places he would speak from. Then one of Jesus’ friends thought that profits were better than sticking by with his friend. If Jesus would get arrested, he would make money and so Judas made plans to turn Jesus over.
One night, after eating with his friends, Jesus went to the park, like he’d done for many nights before. Judas called the police who showed up with weapons and riot gear. They arrested Jesus but the judges couldn’t find anything he did wrong. They sentenced him to death anyways. Meanwhile, the same judges gave a far more lenient sentence to a convicted criminal and set the criminal free only because he was not Jesus.
They beat Jesus up. Many could not believe what they were doing to Jesus. They hurt by what they saw and so they cried out. Others stayed silent or worse: they pretended that nothing was going on. Peter, Jesus’ own friend, pretended not to even know Jesus. He played it safe, hiding in the back, too afraid of what might happen to him. Later, he would regret his silence. Others would blame no one but Jesus for the abuse Jesus himself experienced. They said Jesus was focusing too much on the community and not enough on changing himself. However, some like Simon, were dragged into this same abuse by the very same abusers. Simon stayed with Jesus and marched with him.
The police tied Jesus up on a cross. They put him up on a cross that would certainly kill him. They put him between two criminals who were also up on crosses. The one criminal to his side said, “you don’t have to be up here. You have the education, you have your family; clearly, you have what it takes to avoid dying in the cross.” The criminal to the other side responded, “Fool, do you not get it? Certainly, you and me are here because we committed crimes but this man did nothing wrong! He’s here because our legal system are set up to find him guilty. He’s being crucified only because of who he is and not because of what he has or has not done! Because people are afraid of him even when he actually does good for others!” That same criminal who reprimanded the other one then turned to Jesus and said, “You shouldn’t die like this; your life matters.” Jesus told him, “truly, just like you stand by my side during this difficult time, we’ll stand together when better times come.”
Jesus was sentenced to death.
Jesus, who stood in the corner talking to anyone who would listen.
Jesus, who was dragged from the park where he would always be with friends.
Jesus, who was arrested because officers feared him.
Jesus, who was beaten up senseless.
He didn’t do anything wrong. He did not resist. He even turned himself in. But he was still killed.
And Jesus, with his hands up, said “I can’t breathe” and gave up his spirit, just as the officers pronounced him dead.
Mary Magdalene cried, “Please don’t tell me he’s gone. Please no. Please no, don’t let him be gone.” And Jesus’ mother ran towards her son as she watched him die. Jesus’ friend tried to comfort her, telling her: “It’s OK. I’m here with you.”
But Jesus’ death was not enough. Not even the restraints on his hands and feet were enough. They took one more shot at him, making sure all his blood would spill from his already dead body.
A few days later, the women made their way to where Jesus was buried to take care of his body. They didn’t find him there for he had risen up. They remembered that this is what Jesus had taught them – he would rise up. The women gathered the rest of Jesus’ friends, and like Jesus, they began to rise up.