“Mother, behold your son … behold your mother……”

Then John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, is speaking: “His eyes are closed; he is still moving, but not much … still trying to breathe.  I can smell his sweat, glanded from his body by pain and terror. Now he has opened his eyes and I can see into their depths – as far as the real agony, the real pain and just how deep it goes.  His body is racked from head to toe with it, shattered by the lash and steel-tipped fronds, by the nails, by the thorns driven into his still-beautiful head – nailed to death on a cross – driven to the very end of human endurance.”

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  The Crucifixion depicted as Stabat Mater, Porto Alegre, Brasil, 19 Century

Why do we humans do such things? Why do we take pleasure in hurting others?   Though not all of us do such things there are millions of people who would never dream of such things, millions who try to love their neighbours – there is still a goodly proportion finding it difficult to love those with whom they live, because of race, colour, creed and for many other reasons, not least of which is the maxim ‘it shall be me rather than you’.  These are questions that have been crossing and re-crossing my mind for days.

And Jesus said: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

Consider, if you will, the bullying of others – nothing very much in comparison with a Roman crucifixion – but think about the principles that are involved.  Essentially, bullying is all about power, the exercise of power over others, when the strong are ‘taking it out’ on the weak.  Big is best! Small and weak cannot resist – they are powerless against the bully.  It may be just ‘bullying’ but all too often, these days, the young – even children – are driven to self-harm and suicide by such activities – at school and on the ‘infamous’ World Wide Web.

And, was there not an awful lot about Jesus’ suffering and death that was about bullying, about taking pleasure in seeing another human being suffer – in many cases just for the ‘hell’ of it – but always in front of an audience.  Yes, other factors were at work in Jesus’ case, but, what is certain is that he was being made to suffer so that others could see his suffering, take pleasure from it and to serve as a lesson for all who came to watch.  Do not bullies do the same?

As a race – the human race – we may begin by bullying others at school, and in other walks of life, but then, don’t we invariably move on and make use of this sort of ‘education’.  We become adults and then use all the tactics we have learned, so assiduously, by inflicting even worse on our fellow men and women.  We injure, we main, we torture and we kill in order to get our own way.  In some areas, not worth the mention, we commit such acts for pleasure; one has only to think of the sadomasochists.  The danger is that bullying among the young transmits itself to adulthood – to aggressive behaviour – to gangs and their cultures – and to extreme violence among the young and not-so-young.    

But, let us move on a little further.  Take a glance or two at human invention and the myriad ways in which mankind has used his intelligence to invent and manufacture diabolical methods of control, enabling people to take charge, hurt, terrorise, maim, injure and kill those less able than themselves.  Think for a moment about the weaponry that has been invented, from the sword and the spear, to the gun and the rocket – indeed to all the modern weapons of mass destruction.

And Jesus said: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

Thinking about man against man – and the way in which we treat others, I have to ask the question: “Does this come from all the instincts of the animal kingdom, – the law of the jungle –where ‘lion is king, and everything depends on the survival of the fittest.”  Well, yes, to some extent, but, mostly the ‘law of the jungle’ is about food, about survival – not hurt and pain, caused for the sake of causing it; we human beings seem to have taken such processes to a higher degree, another level altogether – to conflict between men and women, between societies, between nations.

I wonder if it can be that man has learned the law of the jungle, then taken it to the ‘nth’ degree, all because he can – because he is able – and because, it seems, somewhere therein lies a source of pleasure; pleasure arising out of a sense of power over others – power to make him, or her, do what he, or she, would otherwise not do.  Beware the old adage, however, that “… power corrupts, and absolute power, corrupts absolutely”.

And Jesus said: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

Against all of this Jesus says: “Love one another,” and then just look at what could happen if we did – peace and justice would reign once more – the poor and disadvantaged would be taken care of – poverty and strife would be eradicated – we would be ‘guilty’ only of putting others first and getting rid of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. Little do we fully understand what Jesus’ commandment is all about? ‘Love conquers all’ would be the great maxim and selfishness would disappear out of the window.  Oh, if only – if only we could be rid of self, of self-centredness, of ego, what a different world it could, and would be!