I spent most my teenage years in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It is a beautiful city and a beautiful country. Nevertheless, it was in the midst of serious political problems and regular acts of terrorism, car bombings, random machine gunning of people in public places, and the like were common and sometimes daily occurrences. So perhaps I am more attune to violent, dangerous situations than some people.
Shortly after we were married, Anne and I went to see the musical, “Man of la Mancha”. If you know the play, you know that it takes place in a jail, where the main character has been imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition.
The lights dimmed in the theater, suddenly, there was a blast of submachine gun fire, and a group of about 10 men burst into center aisle near where we were seated. One grabbed a man out of his seat and putting a weapon to his head twisted his arm roughly behind his back and the rest then menacingly covered the audience with their weapons.
Even before the gun had been fired, I had seen the movement and the weapon out of the corner of my eye and pulled Anne’s head down.
Of course she understood what I didn’t. This was part of the play. Memories from life in Guatemala had kicked in, and it took me about 30 seconds longer to grasp the concept while Anne wondered if she had married a crazy man. (Now she no longer wonders!)
At that point, my adrenaline was pumping very effectively and I remained alert through the entire performance.
The next day was Passion Sunday, and I couldn’t help but compare the theater experience to Jesus arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
From that day forward every time we go through the Palm Sunday service, I have a mental image of armed men bursting into church and grabbing Jesus, and roughly hitting him and yanking him to his feet, hauling him away while the disciples suddenly awakened fight and flee.
My prayer is that we never separate ourselves from the passion of the passion. Let us never lose sight of the love demonstrated even to enemies.