Reading 1: Numbers 21:4-9; Gospel John 8:21-30
‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He’
There is a wonderful short movie produced by the Pauline Films about the eternal problem of evil. The whole screenplay develops in a court room. The accused man is identified with various names like God, Allah, Yahweh and Brahman. There are three angry complainants. The first, a woman working with mentally challenged children, accuses ‘God’ of being wicked. Since he claims to be all powerful, he should have prevented the suffering of innocent children. The second, a white man, accuses God because his daughter eloped with a black man. A third man, survivor of the holocaust simply denies his existence. How could an all-knowing, all powerful and all loving God permit such atrocities!
‘God’ defends himself saying that he is not responsible although he is pained by their pain. He points out that these evils proceed from the abuse of freedom that he gave to his children. He is helpless when they abuse it. He argues that pain is not good, but it can also become salvific, and that he can write straight through crooked lines.
At that moment, the three accusers could not stand it any longer. They barge at him, right in front of the judge and the jury, and beat him up black and blue. When they had finished, ‘God’ raises his bleeding face, and stretches out his arms for a loving embrace. The three accusers are stunned. Two of them recognize him and rush into that embrace crying, ‘Oh my God, is that you?’ they cry. But the third still fails to see the truth.
Wonderful re-imagination of the story of the cross, in which the Son of God was appended between heaven and earth on a pole, like the serpent raised up by Moses in the desert. Some are given the grace to look up and recognize that God’s bruised face on it. Some others still struggle to see it.