Throughout the pandemic we have heard reports on increased violence in the United States toward Asians and Pacific Islanders. Furthermore, we have been reminded, again, of the ways in which our national and religious issues with race, sex, gender, and class are often linked together. We’ve all seen videos documenting horrendous acts of scapegoating that have led to many of their deaths. With each act comes incredible suffering and further deterioration of our common life. We join the voices in our country condemning this violence and calling for cultural change and greater equitable legal protection for all.
For those of us who identify as Christian, we are approaching Holy Week, the time when we remember the central story of our faith: the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. During those days we remember the scapegoating of Jesus: the persecution, brutal beatings, mockery, and crucifixion. Tragically, his suffering was the result of human fear and misdirected rage.
Holy Week is our annual churchwide revival. It should wake us up! As we remember the story of Jesus, we also remember the temptations of the human heart to act violently, supported by our self-serving justifications.
May all our celebrations challenge us to disrupt the temptations to scapegoat others, including our Asian and Pacific Islanders siblings. And, may the story of Jesus engender in us empathy for all who suffer, made manifest in our work to create a safe, equitable, and loving society.