This week is Holy Week in the Christian tradition, the most sacred time of the year in which we remember the journey Jesus made to his death on the cross. We remember how his disciples declared their love and loyalty and then betrayed or denied knowing him as soon as times got tough. We remember how the Roman Governor, Pilate, questioned him after his arrest, found him to be innocent, but sent him to his death anyway, because it was politically expedient to do so.
As we remember these tragic things, we remember that things like this continue to happen today, and the temptation to put our own interests above goodness and truth is not unique to the disciples and Pilate. We are all faced with this temptation, and giving in can have devastating results for other people and other living things. The innocent suffer and die with shocking regularity in our world because of poor choices made by others. Just look at what is going on in Ukraine.
Of course, this begs the question, if God exists and is all-powerful, why does God allow such suffering to go on? We feel that if we had the power, we would make everything right for everyone, everywhere in the world, creating a universe without destruction and chaos. However, a universe constructed in such a way would be static, without growth or freedom. Like it or not, we live in a world of cyclic change with constant growth, where our lives are finite, making our death inevitable.
Our comfort lies in knowing through everything, God is there. God journeys with us, not as some distant deity watching from on high, but as an intimate part of our experience. Christians believe that God entered our world as a human in the person of Jesus. In his death on the cross, God demonstrates the willingness to suffer and die as we do. Jesus is willing to sacrifice everything in the name of peace and love.
Holy Week ends with Easter Sunday. Our sorrow is turned into joy as Jesus is brought back to life, reassuring us that death is not the final word and love always wins. In the Easter story, we find a way to live in new relationship with God, not denying evil, but living into a call to respond to good and evil the way Jesus did, with compassion and love.