On the Camino, I’m rereading a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis called “Christ Recrucified,”‘about a poor, Greek village that dramatizes the Passion during Holy Week every seven years. The novel tells the story of one particular enactment, in which the people who portrayed the various roles, gradually became their character in the political reality of Greece in the 1920’s. The Passion of Christ can never be enacted, particularly during Holy Week, but must be lived. And all the political and religious machinations and hypocrisy are in painful relief throughout the story, giving credence to the old adage, ” Sone things never change.” The main character, Manolios, is killed by his own people…Christians no less…for trying to reach out to a group of REFUGEES, who also happen to be Christians living in a decimated nearby village! These “foreigners” were singled out by the religious authorities of the village to reject them out of FEAR that they might bring disease and rupture their comfortable, established patterns of living. They were specifically called, “refugees.”
Fear is the greatest weapon used by those who have authority and the power that frequently comes with that authority. This “fear” is weilded to unify the masses in a cause to prevent change from occurring. The main religious authority of the village was threatened by the religious leader of these “refugees,” fellow Orthodox Christians, who was truly a living witness to the gospel. He was poor and humble, a lethal concoction of virtue for the one who is jealous and pompous. I’m reading this with amazement at how this morality tale speaks so clearly to events today.
Christ was “re crucified” in Manolios’ laying down his life through a violent execution. The Passion, the crucifixion of Christ,only happened once as THE event of Redemption, but it is extended in the violent deaths of the poor and those with no power. The humanity of Christ crucified becomes manifested in the humanity of those who suffer injustice in its many forms. The denial of Peter, the betrayal of Judas, the love of Mary Magdalene, possessed by evil spirits, the deep loyal love of John, the fearful flight of the disciples and their silence…are all on trial in our own humanity. We live the Passsion in our own humanities, making us participants and NOT observers. We play our own “part” in this main Act which will go on until Christ returns.
The Resurrection will be the eternal Final Act which never ends but keeps playing on in endless love. In the meantime,we must become more like the religious leader of those refugee Christians: humble, simple, poor. Christ calls us to play our own part in the gospel drama, which may very well pit “father against son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother…” the very words of Jesus in today’s gospel. “I have come not to bring peace but division,” he says in words that can only pierce our hearts and make us think.
As I walk the Camino in a sea of humanity, closely with Bob, Katie, Tom, and soon to be, Rebecca, Jessica, Anna, Claire, Anastasia and Paolo….and a throng of others, I better sense we are ALL a part of this gospel drama in our struggles, confusions, brokenness and sin. May we embrace Christ who always walks the Way with us on our own unique journeys, leading us, eventually, into the Final Act of an Easter that will never end.