Friday, 9 April 2004

Good Friday in Britain

The Guardian prints a column by Giles Fraser The dry eyes of deep grief
and Stephen Bates reports that Churches take ritual of Passion on to the streets.

The Times has an editorial The Passion. Two excerpts from this appear below.

Extreme sacrifice and extremism
Given the suffering which so many endured during the 20th century’s age of extremes, the ebbing of faith in certainties might seem to be a welcome development. And for many contemplating what has been done in the name of religion in Iraq this Holy Week, the influence of a highly politicised form of faith must seem almost wholly malign. If this is what mankind does in the grip of religious fervour, then many will yearn for a world without such passion.
On this day, however, we are called to remember a passion of a different kind, and the extremes to which one man was driven because of faith, and draw a very different message. The Easter narrative helps us to understand that what the world needs is not a retreat from faith, and religion’s moral codes, but an approach towards the mystery of creation marked by the humility of Jesus and infused by the sympathy that He showed to all mankind.

The journey to Calvary that Jesus made was, however, for them as much as anyone. He confronted the ultimate extreme - a painful death and the cries of the world jeering in His ears - to prove that compassion can triumph over calculation, and that sacrifice can redeem sin. He required a faith that might be considered so strong as to be extreme. But His quiet adherence to the principle of love, and the willingness to sacrifice His interests for others, and then His Resurrection, completed a symbolic but real journey, and began a new phase of human spirituality.
The extremists who challenge our peace this Easter come not as Jesus did, to redeem, but as His tormentors did, to uphold an arid purity and proclaim a vengeful power. Their faith is a political religion, like fascism or Marxism, their vision is exclusive and self-indulgent, and their hands are clenched round a gun. The faith of Jesus was of a very different kind: His outstretched hands on the Cross were there to embrace all mankind. If the world is to overcome the dark passion of those whose hate drives them to violent extremes, it can only be helped by contemplating the message of compassion from the One who went to the ultimate extreme for love.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 April 2004 at 12:03 PM GMT | TrackBack
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