Together with Christians around the world, we stand before the cross on Good Friday, in awe of what God has accomplished through these events, and are keenly aware that it is “for us and our salvation” that Jesus endures this death. We see ourselves in this story—our betrayals and denials, our hatreds and fears, which bring this story to its conclusion. In our best moments, we rise to stand with Mary and John at the foot of the cross and accept our responsibility towards each other. In our worst, we turn against each other, falsely calming our conscience by blaming the other.
It must be acknowledged that the Passion narratives and even the liturgies of Holy Week have been perverted to incite anti-Semitism. The Evangelists wrote the passion narratives out of their understanding of the events, and to some degree, under a growing tension as the early Christian community was becoming separate from its roots in the Jewish tradition. These ancient texts disturb and unsettle us, and the discomfort points to the burden of scapegoating and violence that we forget at our own peril - and at the peril of our Jewish brothers and sisters.