“Come and find rest in Christ, healer of broken, wounded lives.
Where Jesus’ spirit breathes all are made whole through love.”
-Dr. Swee Hong Lim
But wait, this is Good Friday. The day is full of violence: a friend’s betrayal, an unjustified arrest, dubious court proceedings, torture, humiliation, and a public execution. How, amid all that suffering, is anyone made whole through love?
On September 22, 2020, I was standing just a few feet away from William (Will) Emmett LeCroy, Jr. while the federal government’s “death team” executed him in our name. The violence I experienced that day haunts me still.
Our federal and some state governments insist on killing persons who’ve killed other persons in order to teach us that killing is wrong. I firmly believe capital punishment is sustained by vengeance and inflicted on those deemed unworthy of dignity and respect.
I met Will two weeks prior to his execution. He had experienced the torture of near-solitary confinement for many years. In our first conversation, he quoted Jesus: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13). He spoke of those who loved and supported him. He knew of the vigils being kept in the U.S., England, and France as his hour of death was approaching.
I believe Will was healed even through all he suffered. In his final words, Will identified with these words of Thomas Merton: “I love everybody! I am awakening from the dream of separateness.”
Will knew the love of so many faithful companions. And he knew God’s love was with him. I believe Will was “made whole through love.”
Meditating on Will’s transformation, and on my own experience of the violence of his execution, I too know the freedom of being “made whole through love.” This freedom is always and everywhere available. The transforming power of God’s love does indeed make us whole. After all, Jesus’ public execution which we commemorate today was a result of his perseverance and determination to show us how to live in that same love.
So, let’s resolve to allow God’s love to transform us now, here, on this Good Friday, remembering that violence is not the end of Jesus’ story, Will’s story, or ours.
We are never separated from God. Yes, Love prevails even — or, rather, most especially — today, Good Friday.
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