Good Friday and Easter musings on the US Empire
Over Holy Week, the days before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter, Christians are called to meditate on Jesus’ last days. On Good Friday, in churches and often in city streets, it is customary to retrace the “Way of the Cross,” symbolically following Jesus from his trial before the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate to his torture, crucifixion, death and burial.
The Roman Empire employed crucifixion as its preferred method of executing suspects deemed threatening to its imperial power and to the “Pax Romana” it imposed on the known world. The United States is more clearly than ever the successor of this imperial tradition. Today those deemed threats to the U.S. Empire and its “Pax Americana” are increasingly targeted by Predator and Reaper drones armed with missiles and bombs.
Just as Rome considered Jesus a “high value target” for execution, it is unlikely that today’s world empire would view Jesus’ life and teaching with any less suspicion. Jesus called for a jubilee abolition of debt, for redistribution of wealth and for freedom to those in prison. His nonviolent stance did not keep him from engaging in dialogue with the Zealots, who advocated violent revolution. This would be all the evidence the U.S. Empire needs to detain an “enemy combatant” indefinitely at Guantanamo or indeed, to put him on a CIA hit list.
Had Rome the technical capability and lack of compunction of the U.S., Joseph of Arimathaea might have paid with his life for his work of mercy, laying the tortured corpse of Jesus in his own tomb. Mary and the women who later brought ointments to bathe and anoint Jesus’ body might never had made it to the tomb; or they might have been burned beyond recognition themselves before they could deliver the good news that the tomb was empty.
[Excerpts of an article by Brian Terrell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence]