The poor are being driven up a new Golgotha

Radical new ideas could not be tolerated. Traditions had to be maintained and power balances preserved.

Radical new ideas could not be tolerated. Traditions had to be maintained and power balances preserved. The wealth, which the Pax Romana’s enforced stability brought with it, really benefitted everyone, didn’t it?

Actually during the time of Herod the Great, from 37 to 4 B.C., Rome’s compliant, client king governed over a Judaea that had seen rural farming communities like Nazareth increasingly impoverished. The widening gap between rich and poor created a dangerous divide. Soon after death removed Herod’s heavy hand, rebellion broke out.

Sepphoris, the administrative hub of Galilee, only about seven kilometres northwest of Nazareth, became a centre of resistance. Roman legions and auxiliaries under Varus, the governor of Syria, had to march south and crush the insurgency. Captured rebels were crucified at the crossroads, the city burnt and survivors sold into slavery.

Likely Joseph, the father of Jesus and a carpenter by trade, would walked from his home in Nazareth with his tool kit to find work helping to rebuild Sepphoris under the new client-king Herod Antipas. Certainly Jesus would have known the reality of war, poverty and the injustices that continued to plague his divided society. Eventually, his energetically nonviolent vision would come to fundamentally challenge the bloody, oppressive status quo of his day.

Would the Romans have crucified an itinerant Galilean preacher on that hill outside Jerusalem’s walls we call Golgotha or Calvary if his only message called on poor peasants to love their enemy? On that first Good Friday, sometime around 33 A.D., the Romans and the elites that co-operated with them sought to end his call by nailing him to a cross.

What was that dangerous call? Paul speaks of a radical egalitarianism in his Epistle to the Galatians, a Celtic population in what is now Turkey. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Luke also talks of a leveling of social hierarchies. “But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” Did Jesus’ teaching of the Beatitudes just create too much of a dissonance with a prevailing socio-political reality based on force, fear, greed and extortion?

Over and over again across history, humanity has fitfully stumbled towards an awareness of that other possible world pointed to by Jesus. Countless unnamed prophets during their own generations have repeated his call and continue to urge us towards a life-affirming ethic. Are we able to hear this message any better than in previous times?

War, poverty, and glaring social divides heightened by environment-destroying economic dictates still plague us. Christopher Hedges, the war correspondent and author – who holds a Master’s of Divinity from Harvard – wrote in his Truthdig.com column a couple of weeks ago: “War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation – spiritual, emotional and finally physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems, economic, social, environmental and political – that sustain us as human beings.”

Yet we continue to war against each other, against nature and to force-march the poor, the disenfranchised, the other – however they are defined, up their own Golgothas. In doing so, we ultimately prepare our own Calvary. Can we contemplate, on this coming Easter, the resurrection of that long-ago vision proclaiming that another world is indeed possible?

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read