during the easter service this past sunday, i began to wonder how the thought of crucifixion could have come into anyone's mind. did the romans experiment with the most effective means for execution by crucifixion? if so, how long did it take them to perfect the technique? did crucifixion begin with the romans? the thought of figuring out the "best practice" for crucifixion is deeply troubling.
these thoughts led me to think about the contrast between the "pax romana" and the jewish reforms instituted by jesus. in some ways, the roman civilization was an enlightened civilization, but this "roman peace" was a peace undergirded by fear. those who dared speak against or rebel against their roman rulers faced terrifying punishments, including crucifixion. against this, jesus preached a way of life based on love for one's neighbor, whether that neighbor was greek, roman, jewish, samaritan, or arab. the love jesus preached was a love that transcended the fear that was at the heart of roman might, a love that eschewed control in favor of cooperation, a love that served rather than conquering.
we still wait for the world to embrace that love, and we christians are often the least capable of showing love to those who are the "others" of this world. we humans still are more concerned with exerting power over others through fear and intimidation than we are with becoming servants who would wash the feet of our neighbors, despite the example of the new pope, francis (and what a beautiful example he has set at the beginning of his papacy!).
my prayer this day is that we will see others as jesus saw others, as brother and sisters without regard to ethnicity or religious belief (or rejection of belief). may we see that love is the most powerful and the only eternal force in the universe and be channels of love. shalom.