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THE CRUCIFIX AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

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crucifijo

 

"He shall stand as a controversial sign" (Luke 2, 34)

 

In the past, in the Québec province, the crucifix was king. It was a sign of belonging to the Church. It was venerated as the symbol of God's love for humanity. «For God so loved us that he gave his only Son, not to condemn us but that we might be saved» (John 3:16-17). Nowadays, however, it cannot be found except in churches, religious houses and in some homes, and of course, in a few museums also.

By virtue of a miracle for which politics only know the secret, the Blue room of the National Assembly has kept its crucifix. It is always hanging above the chair of the President of the Assembly. But far from bringing into unity the scattered Quebec people, it divides them into two camps which have a go at each other with the serenity of many cocks in the same hen house.

On the one hand, proponents of a strict secularism of the State are ruthless in claiming the head of the crucifix. On the other hand, believers or non believers who see in that crucifix a religious symbol near to their identity doggedly insist on keeping it where it hangs.

I ask Jesus what he thinks about that. Contrary to his ways, he answers me immediately. He is serene. He does not look as if he would like to bring down the divine wrath upon secularism. Quite the reverse, he is all smiles and seems to tell me:

- You know very well that I do not live in crucifixes...

I live in the genius of the people of this country which has grown like a tree and has withstood all adverse winds. These recent years, many branches of a new species came to graft themselves on it. I like the roots of that people which is capable of carrying life and the future of so many people.

I like the freedom, the creativity and the impetuousness which define its youth. I like the justice which it does not stop looking for. I like its compassion and its outbursts of solidarity. I like the new facets which give to its face a family resemblance with all mankind...

I can see that Jesus has affection for the brave people who believe that they are honoring God by defending the symbols of their religious past: « Without roots, he insists, there is no tree ». On the other hand, he seems to wish that everybody revisits that page of the Gospel where it is said that life, that the future and even salvation cannot be found neither in old wineskins nor in the mendings of shabby garments. (Mark 2:21)

To go further:

The crucifix is first the image of that real man, called Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. By whom? By the religious leaders and the colonial power of his nation.

For what crime?

That of inciting its people to get rid of the morbid fear in which the religious fundamentalism and the cynicism of its leaders kept them immured.

Initially welcomed as a messiah and even acclaimed as a god, it did not take him long to disappoint. The people of the low classes who expected that he would stuff their bellies with food and solve all their problems without changing their slave mentality turned their backs on him. Those who believed that the only way was to settle things by the armed forces rejected him. And those who pretended that it was necessary rather to turn to religion by practicing it down to the smallest detail simply considered him as being possessed by the devil. At the end, Jesus remained alone...and he was killed.

In spite of that and the nameless blunders committed by many false disciples who came after him, that man continues to be an unparalleled source of inspiration for the human beings who seek to live freely in a world of justice and brotherhood. Equally, he is same inspiration for many people who still hope that death does not have the last word on life.

The intimate relationship with the living God was the great secret in the life of Jesus. From that source of his innermost being sprang the strong points which guided his way and overcame with him the ultimate trial of the cross. Among them, we will retain the following:

Any law, even the supreme law that we believe to be stamped with the seal itself of God, is not really coming from God if that law oppresses instead of liberating.

No power is legitimate if it uses the humans instead of

serving them.

God does not replace the State and the State is not a

god.

The women, the children, the individuals and the peoples who are treated as inferior enjoy the same dignity and the same rights as the individuals and the peoples who feel superior to them.

Every human being: the foreigner, the enemy, the sinner, the criminal, either broken in his body or in his spirit, has the right to be treated with respect, justice and kindness.

If the common good for all humans does not occupy the center of their concerns, then, culture, the economy, the arts, science, education, communications, politics, ethics and religion, far from reducing the sufferings of humanity, greatly run the risk of making them worse.

Whatever we do to the least of the humans is done to all mankind; thus, for those who believe in God, it is done to God himself.

To fight evil with evil is the surest way of letting ourselves being swallowed by nothingness.

The living God is not a prisoner of any temple, since he has no other residence than the human beings; and his greater pride is to see them helping one another to stand up.

Any dictatorship, even the one that seems to find legitimacy in progress, in religion or in peace, is hypocritical and criminal; sooner or later, it gives rise to corruption, alienation and misery and dictatorship has to be driven out with the whip. (Thus, the dictatorship of the Market of the world's greatest crooks who enjoy playing to waste the great Temple of the Earth under the absurd pretext of insuring its future...).

True progress is the one which benefits all men and women of the Earth, and not just a handful of men and women who have more assets than all the poor people of the planet put together.

True religion consists in freely loving, since it is freely that God loves all that exists.

True peace, the only one worthy of that name, is one which is built on justice and abhors any form of lying.

For having lived in accordance with these principles and for having propagated them, Jesus is being tortured and condemned to the cross as a rebel, a villain and an apostate. He is rejected because he calls into question the very narrow and not so human way by which, we humans, have the habit of seeing things and of governing ourselves.

Very often we prefer to hang on to our crucifixes than to pay attention to what they mean.

Or we downright get rid of them because for a too long time they were used to sanctify quite the opposite of what they should have meant.

 

Eloy Roy

Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages

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