Friday, April 2, 2010


Jesus' death rescues from the shame that binds us

Theologian Roberta Bondi looks at the crucifixion in a breathtaking way in her book Memories of God: Theological Reflections on a Life, Abingdon Press, 1995.  An excerpt to reflect on this week:

"How could I repent of the things that had happened to me without me choosing them, of having been made a woman, of my very being?  I did not need to repent.  I needed to be rescued from my shame.  And this is what I now could see was exactly what Jesus as the privileged son of God, as God's own self, had chosen to do by casting his lot with not only me but with all woman and men the world would shame and reduce to nothing for simply being who they are."

"And not only to the inconspicuously shamed like me and those like me, but also to the raped woman blamed for the rape, to the divorced woman trying to support her children on a secretary's salary while her church preaches to her about 'family values,' to young people with blackened teeth because they can't afford the price of a dentist, to the uneducated and ignorant, to the one with the 'wrong' color skin who can't get a mortgage in his own neighborhood, to the day laborer who is treated as an animal by his employer, to the man with AIDS, to the man whose children have contempt for him because he can't find a job, to the 'unmanly' man who weeps real tears, to the mentally ill old woman living in a pile of newspapers on Social Security disability, to the man who is ridiculed by his friends when they learn that he gets up in the night with his baby so his wife may sleep, to all of these Jesus speaks:"

"'Do not be ashamed.  I cast my lot with you, as God and as a human being.  From the time I heard the cry of the depressed slaves in Egypt, I have sought to rescue you who are shamed.  Yes, you have sinned, and you have repented in abundance, but it is the world that is the source of your shame, not your own sin.'"

"'It is your suffering shame that consumes you with anger, that renders you passive, that swallows you in depression, that keeps you from loving and knowing yourself to be loved.  You do not bear your shame as the rightful price you pay for some imagined unworthiness.'"

"'A bruised reed, I will not break you; a smoldering wick, I will never quench you (Isaiah 42:3).  I hate the shame that binds you and destroys you, and I will prove it to you and to the world by casting my lot with you even so far as to die a death the world finds shameful.  By showing you the source and meaning of your shame, I will make a space for you to breathe and thrive.  This is what I, as a human being in the image of God, and as God's own self, chose with great joy.'"

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