Easter Sunday and the Holy in an Unholy Week

– Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy

The Holy, in what otherwise would be just another in the never-ending sequence of unholy weeks of evil and death, violence and enmity, is Jesus and His Holy response to the unholy. He and His chosen response of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, even of betraying friends and lethal enemies, is the Holy in Holy Week, because it is the response that is filled with the Spirit of the Holy,God who is love. It is the response of Holy love to the unholy and hence the truthfulness of the name Holy Week. Nevertheless, Holy Week ends, as does every week and every life, in death, the end of Jesus’ life and many other lives, the end of Jesus’ world and the end of the worlds’ of many others.

A day and a half later we hear for the first time the words that will be said trillions of times across the next two thousand years, “He is risen!” Thousands of people had died during the previous week, but only one rises from the dead. Why? Is there any connection between Jesus’ Passion and His Resurrection, between His Cross and His Resurrection? If so, what is it?

If Jesus had suffered and died killing His enemies, using some justified violence theory as His rationale for responding to lethal enemies in this manner, would there be a Resurrection? If Jesus’ were calling for retaliation, retribution, reprisal, an “eye for an eye,” redress or justice from the Cross, would there be a Resurrection? How important is Jesus’ steadfast nonviolent love (agape) of betraying friends and lethal enemies during His Passion for opening the door for the Resurrection and comprehending the salvific revelatory communication from God that the Resurrection imparts? Remembering that nonviolent love even towards lethal enemies was the response to evil, violence, enmity and death chosen by Jesus because it was the will of the Father. He drank fully from the cup of nonviolent suffering love, including its dregs, not in order to suffer but in order to love as the Father loves, “who makes His sun rise on the bad and the good” (Mt 5:43-48; Lk 6:27-36), and do the Father’s “will on earth as it is done in heaven.”

It is possible to say the Father would have raised Jesus from the dead even if He were the moral equivalent of Alexander the Great or a Mafia enforcer to the very end of His life. If such were the case then Jesus’ life decisions regarding unconditional obedience to the Father’s will and what that will was would be irrelevant to His Resurrection. Indeed, nothing in Jesus’ life would be relevant. God was going to do what God was going to do regardless of what Jesus did. However under this interpretation of the saving event, Jesus could have suffered and died in uterobecause of a miscarriage or on a battlefield while trying to kill enemies and the Resurrection would have taken place and salvation would have been brought to humanity. Such is a possible interpretation of the Resurrection, namely, that there is nothing in Jesus’ Passion and death that makes any essential difference in terms of His Resurrection.

But, very, very few in the history of Christianity have given credence to an interpretation that holds there is no essential relationship between the Cross and the Resurrection. Almost all Christians have found it necessary to somehow connect Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection. But at least since the time of Constantine that connection has been the mere animal pain of being tortured and executed by crucifixion. Suffering for suffering sake out of obedience to God saved. As this view on the relationship between Cross and Resurrection gradually came to be articulated the point of contact between Cross and Resurrection was the acceptance, because it was the Father’s will, of mind-breaking pain by a Divine Infinite Incarnate Being in order to somehow satisfy an infinite offense or injustice committed against God by the human being.

The pastoral understanding that rationally flowed from such an interpretation was that it was by suffering that a person was saved—and the more the better. By somehow uniting one’s sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross, one built up his or her treasury in heaven and could thereby have spiritual savings galore to offset any spiritual debts he or she may in justice have to pay. One’s suffering on the battlefield while trying to kill his/her enemies or those of his/her nation-state, ethnic group, religion or tribe was as spiritually valid and valuable as suffering while trying to love one’s enemies. The coin of the realm for entering heaven was suffering. Losing one’s life while trying to love one’s enemies and losing one’s life while trying to kill one’s enemies were both salvific acts if united somehow with the death of Jesus. Uncountable numbers of treatises in theology, spirituality, mysticism, metaphysic, morality, church discipline and Church-State relations were written to illuminate and refine this understanding of the relation between Cross and Resurrection and what it called people to if they desired to participate in the salvation made available by Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection.

Over the last five hundred years or so this interpretation of the Cross-Resurrection relationship has undergone some significant shading, or perhaps, alteration. With this revision, Jesus suffering and death on the Cross is still the means of salvation for Christians. However, now, no more was needed after Good Friday 33AD than to “accept Jesus as one’s savior.” Daily self- flagellation or giving up ice cream sodas was irrelevant to one’s salvation, as any and all other acts or works, whether it be loving one’s enemy or killing one’s enemy. All human choices were of no consequence for one’s salvation— except the choice internally “accepting Jesus as one’s savior.”

That Jesus suffered torture and died by crucifixion at the hands of the Jewish and Roman religious and secular political powerhouses of His time and place is a statement of historical fact. That He suffered and died in a Spirit of Nonviolent Love towards all, even His lethal enemies is also an historical fact. “Jesus saves,” however, is a faith statement, not a statement of verifiable historical fact or of reason. That being said, the question immediately arises, how does Jesus save all humanity and me? Is there some way that I am called to participate in or respond to the salvation made available through Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection so that in my freedom I have a part in choosing whether to be saved? Or, is my salvation and the salvation of humanity imposed via the almighty power of God? Depending on the answer, a person lives life differently.

The Gospels tell us that love (agape) and only love saves. Love is the center and the circumference and everything in between of the salvation process. Why? Love is not just the point at which the Cross and Resurrection meet. Love is what completely overlaps, saturates and envelops both events. It and only it has the power to save one and all eternally from evil and death. Love is the Eternal Life of the Eternal One, the Self-communication of the Eternal Life of the Eternal One to each and all, who choose to accept it, participate in it, live and die by it, and for it, in order to communicate it to others for their well being and eternal salvation.

“God is love (agape).” Jesus is the Word of God, God incarnate. The love He lives out of, the love that He choses, the love that He is Uncreated Love that exists from eternity to eternity. It is the love that never did not exists and could never not exists because it is the Love that is God, who always was and always will be. It is the love that Saint Paul states in his famous hymn of Love (1 Cor 13) last forever, that never comes to an end. This is so because it is Love that is the Self-communication of the Eternal IAM. It never ceases because IAM never ceases to be. Love bestows Eternal Life because it is Eternal Life.

One must first have faith in Jesus before one can accept as the will of God what He said and lived unto death, namely, the Way of Nonviolent Love of all always in imitation of Him. Jesus and Jesus alone is the authoritative validator of this truth and unique and ultimate model of this love. He is also the source of the power needed to live in and from this love. The Christian is not living a life in imitation of a dead hero. He or she is living life in, through and with the risen Christ. The power to live the new commandment, the power to “love one another (including enemies) as I have loved you” comes from Christ, the love of Christ, already existing in the person.

God who is love does not desire that Jesus or anyone else to suffer in order to placate Him, to get back into His good graces or to prove they have the right stuff to be a Christian and be saved. Suffering, like death, is the consequence of human beings choosing evil, that is sinning, individually and collectively.  TheHoly in Holy Week is not Jesus’ suffering but His unabated love for all, those who do Him good as well as those who do Him evil. This is what is Holy, this is what saves, this is what is and what bestows Eternal Life (salvation) on one and all, this is the power that overcomes all other powers because it is the Life of God and therefore the almighty power of God. To faithfully live this saving love in order to communicate it to others Jesus had to suffer. A Christian also, in many situations, will have to suffer, or possibly loose his or her life or some cherished piece of it, to communicate this saving love. But the salvific reality of the Cross of Christ to be embraced and lived is Holy love as revealed and lived unto death by Him—not suffering endured or imposed.

Christ is indeed risen! Jesus indeed saves!


A word beyond the final words as an Easter present (presence):

The few quotations below are from, The Power and the Wisdom: An Interpretation of the New Testament, (1965), by the preeminent Catholic Biblical scholar of the med-twentieth century, the Rev. John L. McKenzie. The Second Vatican Council had not yet concluded. In the Catholic Church in these times no Jesuit, which McKenzie was, could publish a theological work that did no receives three distinct formal approvals stating publicly that is was free of all doctrinal error. The names of these approvals that a piece of theological writing was in conformity with the Catholic faith were, Imprimi Potest, Nihil Obstat,and Imprimatur.  The Power and the Wisdom has all three. I mention this only to forestall any uninformed criticism in Catholic circles that what is said is not in conformity with the Magisterium or the Catholic Faith.

-The power which destroys all other powers is the power of love, the love of God revealed and active in Jesus Christ. God revealed in Jesus that He loves man and will deliver him through love and through nothing else.

-The saving act of Jesus is an act of love of the type which He recommends in the Gospels. He loves God by loving His fellow men.Theologians distinguish the “God-ward” and “man-ward” aspects of the saving act; but the New Testament does not use such distinctions. The saving act is all God-ward and all man-ward; it moves toward God by moving toward man, as Jesus tells His disciples they also must do. And He leaves no room for man to move toward God except through his fellow man. 

-John said that the Christian cannot prove his love of God except by his love of man. Matthew makes it very clear that it is not really proved unless the person we love is an enemy.

-Reason demands moderation in love as in all things; faith destroys moderation here. Faith tolerates a moderate love of one’s fellow human beings no more than it tolerates a moderate love between God and man.

-The New Testament speaks of love because it rises out of an uncreated love. The Christian event is not violent; and its effects are not felt through vulgar power. Jesus Himself spoke of its power in the parables of the leaven and the mustard seed. The Christian event moves not to take anything away, but to give man something, love. Man resists it. Man is not ready for love. He never has been. Yet, it is the one enduring reality in the created world, and in it man achieves enduring reality and value.

-No one questions the centrality of love in New Testament morality; it is questionable whether Christians have always grasped how different it is and how total it is. I venture to state its totality by saying that in the New Testament and act which is not an act of love has no moral value at all. There is no moral action in Christian life except the act of love.

-The power of love is seen in the death of Jesus; it is seen more fully in His resurrection. For love is a communication of self; and the Christian is not identified with God in Jesus unless he is identified with Jesus risen. Christ lives. The life of a Christian is not the imitation of a dead hero—and it is worth noticing that it can become just that.

-There is a subtle Christian logic in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give you, that you should love one another as I have loved you.” A more humanly reasonable logic would conclude: “…that you love me as I have loved you.” And this we would conclude, were not the New Testament so insistent upon its own logic.

The power of love is not the power to dominate but the power to communicate self; and the response is communication, tending toward complete identity.

-The Christian knows that his love is the active presence of God in the world; if he lacks it, he takes away God’s presence from the only place where he can put it. He has come between his neighbor and the saving love of Jesus Christ.


-Jesus presents in His words and life not only a good way of doing things, not only an ideal to be executed whenever it is convenient, but also the only way of doing what He did.

Easter Sunday — Defeat in Detail?

By Catholic Scout

And so they came to the tomb very early on the day after the Sabbath, at sunrise. And they began to question among themselves, Who is to roll the stone away for us from the door of the tomb?
Then they looked up, and saw that the stone, great as it was, had been rolled away already. And they went into the tomb, and saw there, on the right, a young man seated, wearing a white robe; and they were dismayed.
But he said to them, No need to be dismayed; you have come to look for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; he has risen again, he is not here. Here is the place where they laid him. Go and tell Peter and the rest of his disciples that he is going before you into Galilee. There you shall see him, as he promised you.

As He promised you. He did not fail.
[3] Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
[4] Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. 
[5] Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
[6] Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. 
[7] Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 
[8] Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
[9] Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. 
[10] Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[11] Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: 
[12] Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.

The Promises of this Man, are not for this earthly realm, but an eternal one. He will not fail those who are faithful to His Way.

The titles of the talks are:
The New Commandment

The Kingdoms of the World and All Their Splendor or Diakonia

Religious Self-Deception: How Evil Becomes Good

Saturday: Holy Week–a Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy


“Viewing the mutilated body of the beloved is the most grief-ridden experience of human existence. It is incontrovertible evidence that evil rules. It is an unambiguous testament that in the end it is not the gentle, the nonviolent and the meek who inherit the earth but the cruel, the violent and the tough. Death and the dark side of reality are always the final victors.

The dead body of Christ lying wide-eyed and open-mouthed upon the ground seems to be not only incontestable testimony that all this is true, but also the most conclusive evidence that the cross of nonviolent love does not save—that the Sermon on the Mount is at best clearly wrong, and at worst, a socially irresponsible misleading of people into paths of total destruction.

It is all over! Period. The person is placed in the grave never to be seen nor to see again, never to speak nor to be spoken to again, never to love nor to be loved again. Never! Never! Never! He or she won’t be back. In the end those who choose the way of the of nonviolent suffering love end up like all others—food for worms. Their molecules randomly are irretrievably spread throughout an infinite and indifferent ocean of time and space. Hope of being again is pointless. Personal existence is lost forever.

One last moment. One last touch. One final kiss. A whispered, “I love you— Good-bye forever,” and then the rock is placed over the tomb. Nonviolent Love, like hedonism, Aristotelianism, stoicism and all other philosophies, is ultimately an illusion without real power to save, a faith without any eternal potential or possibilities.

An occupied sepulcher is no more a symbol of hope than a Nazi crematory. The dead body of Jesus, the Jew from Nazareth, is a stark and irrefutable statement and memory of what violence and enmity do to a life, and that a life of Nonviolent Love is not the Way to overcome violence and enmity, evil and death. There is no more to be said and no more that can be done. There is only memory and unbearable suffering to be endured.

(Excerpt from The Stations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love)

The following video, viewer discretion is advised, contains disturbing and graphic images of real casualties of war.

Friday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy


With what magnitude of overwhelming certainty must the truth—that the will of the Father was to nonviolently love (agape) all human beings always—have been in the mind and heart of Jesus on that first Good Friday, that He would choose to be tortured and murdered rather than live some other truth. It was a truth of the Father’s will, which was so beyond doubt that He would choose to die living it rather than to live by abandoning it. 

And yet, almost universally the institutional Churches of Christianity, their leaders and most Christians are indifferent towards that same truth of the Father and Jesus. They are breezily dismissive of it, or superficially critical of it, or mindlessly mocking of it, or aggressively hostile to it.

For popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, ministers, pastors and Christians, who follow the Christian custom of rejecting this teaching of Jesus and raising up as a moral equivalent a contradictory teaching, e.g., a Christian justified violence moral theory, Friday of Holy Week is a dangerous memory, if permitted to be remembered fully and accurately. But, it is not as dangerous to soul and body, to self and humanity as forgetting this truth that the Word of God Incarnate explicitly and concretely revealed for all to see that Friday for their redemption—revealed at such great cost in the currency of nonviolent suffering love. Take Jesus’ nonviolent love of all, friends and enemies, out of Good Friday, and replace it with one of the customary Christian substitutes justifying violence and enmity that Church leaders and Christians now hold and teach as an equivalent way of faithfully following Jesus, and Good Friday and all that it reveals of God, His power and His wisdom does not exist.

One would think that something so irremovable and essential for a phenomenon to exist would be equally irremovable and essential whenever the phenomenon and its consequences are referred to or remembered. But, again, almost universally such is not the case in the Churches of Christianity, in the teachings of their leaders or in the minds and hearts of most Christians. Yet, what Jesus knew with certainty was the will of the Father and therefore essential for Him to live on Good Friday in 33 AD, what was equally essential for the Evangelists to record in the Gospels, and what was essential for Good Friday to even exists, is a non-thought in the minds of  95% of Christians today, regardless of their Church or the place they hold in their Church.

Dangerous indeed is the memory of Good Friday for any institution, religious or secular, built and maintained by the brick and mortar of violence and enmity and all the spiritually destructive spirits that they release into that institution. Even more dangerous is the memory of Good Friday for any human life, Christian or non-Christian, built and maintained by the brick and mortar of violence and enmity and all the spiritually destructive spirits they release into the mind and heart of that human life. Dangerous but potentially salvific. For in obliterating all hope that there is any such spiritual reality as redemptive violence, it unambiguously reveals wherein the hope for redemption lies—the nonviolent love of all, in trusting communion with and in trusting imitation of God Incarnate.

Thursday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy


The Eucharist, thanks to which, God’s absolute ‘no’ to violence, pronounced on the cross, is kept alive through the centuries. The Eucharist is the sacrament of non-violence! 

-Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. (March 11, 2005)

 The narrative of Jesus’ Passion and death was the first part of the Gospel Tradition to acquire a fixed structure and, of all portions of the Gospels, was the first to be included as a recited liturgical remembrance. Note it is the narrative of Jesus’ Passion and death that was the central remembrance around which the Gospels took form and that was the primal remembrance of Christian liturgical recital. Note also, it was narrative, and only narrative, tethered intrinsically to the Gospels’ Passion narrative, which was primal and paramountnot theological, metaphysical or mystical expositions of the Passion of Jesus.

Probably a billion Christians participate in the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, the Agape Meal, the Mass, the Divine Liturgy with some remembrance of Jesus’ Passion and death every week. Moreover, billions of other Christians over the last two thousand years have also participated in the Eucharist. Think what the Church and the world might be today, if today and yesterday, Christians continuously heard in the anamnesis/remembrance narrative of the Eucharist Prayer—instead of the verbal generalities “suffered” and “died” as the remembrance of Jesus Passion and death—a narrative of particulars drawn directly from the narratives of the Gospels. For example, suppose that instead of simply “suffered and died,” a billion Christians this week heard and billions of Christians going all the way back to the time of Constantinian continuously heard and pondered a liturgical recital of the Passion narrative along the lines of the following: what would be the state of the Church and humanity at this moment?

 On the night before He went forth to His eternally memorable and life-giving death, like a Lamb led to slaughter, rejecting violence, loving His enemies, and praying for His persecutors, He bestowed upon His disciples the gift of a New Commandment:

“Love one another. As I have loved you,
so you also should love one another.”

Then He took bread into His hands, and giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying:

“Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my body,
which will be given up for you.”

In a similar way, when the Supper was ended, He took the chalice. And once more giving thanks, He gave it to His disciples, saying:

“Take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the cup of my blood,
 the blood of the new and eternal covenant,
 which will be poured out for you and for many,
for the forgiveness of sins,
“Do this in memory of me.”

Obedient, therefore, to this precept of salvation, we call to mind and reverence His passion where He lived to the fullest the precepts which He taught for our sanctification. We remember His suffering at the hands of a fallen humanity filled with the spirit of violence and enmity. But, we remember also that He endured this humiliation with a love free of retaliation, revenge, and retribution. We recall His execution on the cross. But, we recall also that He died loving enemies, praying for persecutors, forgiving, and being superabundantly merciful to those for whom justice would have demanded justice. Finally, we celebrate the memory of the fruits of His trustful obedience to thy will, O God: the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand, the second and glorious coming. Therefore we offer You your own, from what is your own, in all and for the sake of all…

Excerpt from The Nonviolent Eucharist (1991)

The intentional erasure or hiding or ignoring of a memory or of history always serves an end. It is not possible to envision any spiritual advantage or to find any good end that is served by truncating the Eucharistic Passion narrative down to “suffered and died.” Such an extremist shrinking of the narrative of Jesus’ Passion all but converts the Eucharistic anamnesis into a liturgical instrument of amnesia.

Holy Thursday of Holy Week is a dangerous memory because it is the memory of the institution of the Eucharistic with its two commands: “Do this in memory of me,” and the “new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.”  If the memory of me is bowdlerized, then the content and meaning of the new commandment will be correspondingly bowdlerized. And, the consequence of this interconnected and interactive bowdlerization will be, in the Church and in humanity, what? Look out of the window or turn on the television!

The insertion by the Churches of Christianity of a narrative of Jesus’ Passion—as clear and as descriptive as the narrative of the Gospels—into the anamnesis/remembrance of their Eucharistic Prayer is a requirement of truth, a requirement of agape, a requirement of fidelity to the Word of God Incarnate. It is a gift all Christians need to receive from the leaders of their various Churches. It is a witness to the grace of the cross that all Christians and all humanity need to encounter in Christian practice.

Wednesday: Holy Week–A Dangerous Memory

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel McCarthy


A third reason that accurate remembrances of Holy Week and of Jesus’ Passion in the anamnesis of the Eucharist Prayer are potentially dangerous memories is that such memories do not look only to the past; they also look toward the future. Acute memories of acute human suffering have the power to motivate people to make life better in the future, especially if the particular suffering remembered is still unabatedly operative in the world. New memories of human suffering or new insight into well known memories of human suffering can reveal the tragic flaw in the taken-for-granted worldview of a group. Pondering the memory of a single suffering person has the power to undermine the prevailing myths by which a secular or a religious society and its rulers live and operate, e.g., the memory of one Third World mother in agony and out of her mind with horror holding her child who has just been decapitated by a First World drone or smart bomb. But, memory must be kept alive for it to have a future and not just a past.

The Church is supposed to be the bearer of the dangerous memory of Jesus, a victim of the violence of the powerful, and by compassionate extension the bearer of the dangerous memory of all the victims of the violence of the powerful across the ages down to this very day. The Church is supposed to be the bearer of the dangerous memory of Jesus’ torture and death that motivates witnessing to humanity by word and deed to overcome evil with good (Christlike agape).The Church is supposed to be the Body of Christ that responds to its own violent victimization in the Way it remembers Christ responded to His violent victimization—thereby breaking the perennial cycle of violent reciprocity, retaliation and revenge by returning good (agape) for evil.  The Church is suppose to be that group of people who hears and listens attentively to the anguished cries of intolerable pain of the victim of the violence of the powerful, Jesus of Nazareth, and by the grace of His cries hears, with compassion and urgency, the anguished cries of all the victims of the violence of the powerful. But is this what the institutional Church is?

Do the Churches of Christianity, in whatever nation they may be situated, proclaim the memory of Jesus in such a way that it draws Christians and others into strongly identifying with the victims of the violence of the powerful, beginning  with Jesus? Or, is the proclamation of the memory of the torture and murder of Jesus by the institutional Churches of Christianity made so metaphysically and mystically circuitous and innocuous that these Churches nurture their Christian people into strongly identifying with the powerful and their violent agents, who operate out of the same spirit and myth as their occupational predecessors, the torturers and murders of Jesus?