Good Friday, the Cross and the Prevailing Order

A line in Tuesday evening’s reading for the Liturgy of the Hours reminds us of an often overlooked aspect of the effect of what is taking place on this day, Good Friday:

He has chosen things low and contemptible, mere nothings, to overthrow the existing order (1 Cor 1:28)

Much has been said of the redemption of Christ from sin as if the order that was overthrown was only confined to some bodiless, spiritual realm. But if God really became flesh and truly suffered and died, the redemptive effect of his work would also implicate what John Paul II called the “structures of sin”, the institutions that concretise sin, and the logic they distribute into the very fibre of our bodily existence and make us walking and breathing fragments of those institutions, to paraphrase Pierre Bourdieu.

God has chosen the logic of “mere nothings” to combat, and indeed overthrow, the logic of the status quo, framed by atomism, the lust for power, and the obsession with limitless knowledge and with that the obsession with security.

The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ would have meant that, to recall Isaiah’s prophecies of the Suffering Servant, empire, trampling boots and bloodied garments will be burned and consumed by fire. The passion of this hinge of human history should give us pause to consider if we still cling to these old logics even while we, living the new life in Christ, claim to reject the institutions they crystallise.

Do we continue to let the threads of this prevailing order weave through our lives as members of the body of Christ? So while we, for example, reject statism, do we continue to grasp after the kind of security from others in such a way that would make us clamour for greater state oversight? While we reject the selfishness of abortion, do we continue to bask in the consumer culture that fuels it?

The silence of the night of his death, and of Holy Saturday, may be an opportune time to reflect not only on whether we truly have allowed God to overthrow the existing order in all facets of our lives, our souls, our bodies, and our modes of thinking. Which have we chosen as the prevailing order to frame each of our thoughts, words and actions?

Tuesday evening’s reading ends thus: In Him we are consecrated and set free (1 Cor 1:30)

The passion, death and impending resurrection of the Lord of history has freed us from the presumptions that we have taken as historical truth, but he does not force us to be part of the new thing he is making.


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