The horror and torture of Jesus reached its culmination. Dying alone, desecrated, one of the condemned, his body now lay lifeless in the grave. According to Luke’s Gospel, in the moment of his death, when he cried out, 'Father, into your hand, I commend my Spirit,' darkness fell upon the entire land, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Seeing this, the representative of the empire, one of the executioners, declared, 'Surely this man was innocent', and the crowds who had come to witness the brutal killing were transformed into mourners, beating their breasts.
Perhaps it was true that they did not comprehend the magnitude of their actions, but alas, a line had been crossed; there was no going back. In the public display of violence and domination, the innocent one faced brutality, butchery, death, and destruction as sin was sinned against him by the hell-bent powers of religion, empire, and the forces of domination.
Heaven, like the body of Jesus, is silent. The holy place, the temple, like the body of Jesus, is empty, without the breath of the divine. The world in which the one who is the light of the world once walked, like the tomb, is in darkness.
In our own day and age, the church bears witness to the crucifixion of the innocent at the behest of domination and oppression. The children in Gaza suffer and die for a crime they did not commit—bodies trapped under the rubble, maimed, wounded, lying dead on the floor of a bombed hospital—victims of extreme violence fueled and justified by religious and political ideology, as well as the myth of redemptive violence. The church has prayed for mercy, but heaven seems silent.
We feel abandoned as suffering escalates. Like the women in the Gospel of Luke, the church, on the whole, watches from a distance, often with interpretations of actuality that have been sanitized by Western media.
Yet, some of our brothers and sisters stay, dwell, live, and die, contemplating whether they will become a statistic that some will rightly call a war crime. Darkness has fallen on the land, the curtain of the temple is torn in two. Heaven is silent.