Note: This is from a post for Palm Sunday two years ago with a few modifications.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King, From: "Strength to Love"
Domingo de Ramos
It was life in Guatemala in the late 1960's and early 1970's that brought the passion to life for me. I was a young teenager, living in a country where guerilla warfare kept the country on edge. Bombs would go off on buses, or in a marketplace. There were drive by assasinations, bodies that were tortured dropped by the roadside, or in front of the family home.
Holy week was full of street processions, where the Roman Catholic churches would bring forth their most gruesome statues of the passion, or sometimes hand carried floats with people portraying the stations of the cross.
These floats would parade throught the streets. In some cities families or neighborhoods would craft elaborate carpets in the streets formed of flowers and leaves. They were works of art, beautiful, yet ephemeral, soon to be trampled by the tread of marchers carrying the crucified Christ.
It was one such Holy Week, when during a procession there was a large armed presence of soldiers, each carrying a rifle or a submachine gun. At one intersection, a young man stood in the back of a jeep with his hands on a 50 caliber machine gun, with one belt loaded, and 3 ammo boxes open ready to load.
It was then that the impact of the original crucifixion hit me. Suddenly I could see the Roman army, surrounded by a hostile crowd. Some of the crowd wanted them to kill Jesus, but they were no friends of Romans. I could sense the tension in the air, the confusion.
And I could see Jesus, dragged down the street, the Lord of Glory. This was just how the world has always worked. One more troublemaker tortured, put on display as a warning to anyone who might pose a threat to Rome. All glory extinguished. Horror and beauty are slammed into one another in a groteque cosmic conflict.
I watched the soldiers and the marchers, stunned that after 2000 years we were still at it. Still torturing, still killing, still intimidating.
A few years later, after my family was thrown out of Guatemala, I found myself working with Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees. It was then that I realized that the powers of this world, which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God, and my own sinful desires and rebellion against God are no match for the power of the cross.
Every act of hate meets its match when confronted with matchless love.