‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 5:10
Obviously and gratefully, I have no idea what it feels like to literally hang from a cross.
There have been times I’ve felt betrayed, broken, and gaslit (even by the Church) and there have been excruciating times when I’ve felt alone with the exception of Jesus. Those days are an important part of my call story.
And there is so much betrayal, brokenness, and gaslighting going on in the world, that Good Friday feels upspeakably holy this year and every year. We have a God who knows what it’s like to feel betrayed, broken, and gaslit. This God is not like any other god.
I mentioned my appreciation for the movie Promising Young Woman last week and I was struck by the depth of the betrayal Emerald Fennell was able to create on film. It’s the feeling that Nina Fisher must have felt when she was sexually assaulted and no one believed her, except for her friend Cassie. And Cassie felt that betrayal as if it had happened to her.
Cassie becomes an avenging angel, in the words of Fennell. In fact, the Biblical imagery is intentional. Cassie is often filmed as if she’s hanging on a cross. Sometimes it appears that there’s a halo above her head or angel wings are at her sides. (You have to watch the movie more than once to catch these little – forgive me – Easter eggs.) Cassie continues to be kind even in her misery. Until she’s not. She makes a sacrifice and yet the end is not the end.
Sort of like the Jesus story.
What I’m not saying is that Cassie is Jesus. What I am saying is that each of us has the ability to live our lives supporting the unsupported and trying to live with integrity. What I’m saying is that there are privileged people among us who have gone through life unconcerned with the fact that the other people around them are human beings, not disposable things. At this moment there are people in places of power who have done heinous things without repercussion. They have the power to make their problems go away, to make the troublemakers go away.
The powerful of First Century Palestine wanted Jesus to go away because he knew the truth about them. Even if they were the respectable temple leaders, he knew what was actually in their hearts.
As Emerald Fennell has said in interviews, “there is no position more powerful and vulnerable” than hanging from a cross which is why the opening scene of her movie shows Carrie in such a position. The vulnerability comes from being on full display for the world to see your weaknesses. And yet great power comes from revealing such vulnerability.
If you don’t believe me, look at Jesus.
For those all over the world who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake today, we pray to the LORD.
Image from the opening scene of Promising Young Woman starring Carrie Mulligan as Cassie.