BY MAXIME VILLENEUVE
This blog post is intended particularly for a Christian audience, but any and all are welcome to read and share!
Image by Milan Boers; some rights reserved.
Having just returned from my Brazilian pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Rio, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on my journey and the many sights, smells, and sounds I encountered along the way. I began to meditate upon the Stations of the Cross event at Copacabana Beach presided by Pope Francis. Looking back at it, millions of young people were meditating on the sufferings Christ endured as He was led to His death. I started to think of the fact that we were watching Jesus being tortured, and how this should challenge all Christians today.
The Stations of the Cross are always deeply challenging and moving. Here is Innocence itself wrongly pronounced guilty, Purity beaten and spat upon, Goodness attacked with the vileness of the world. As we meditate on Christ on the road to Calvary, is it any wonder why we as Christians should stand against torture in all its forms? Our Lord was beaten, whipped, flogged, scourged, humiliated, mocked, and reviled; Our Lord was tortured. It must follow, then, that we who follow Him must enter into His sufferings and work to ensure that they are never inflicted on anyone again.
Just as Jesus is in the poor, Jesus is the Tortured One in our world today. When Christians turn a blind eye to torture, or justify it based on our political beliefs or fears, we become the crowd on the morning of Good Friday screaming, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" We become the centurions who inflicted untold suffering on Our Lord. We become the disciples who abandoned Jesus in His hour of need.
Christians cannot sit by and accept the existence of torture in society, especially as it exists in our political institutions and how it is propagandized by the mainstream media. In fighting to end torture by refusing to vote for politicians who support torture, we must look to the sufferings of Jesus on the road to Calvary. We must ask our politicians: "Jesus was tortured to death; how can you call yourself pro-life if you support and advocate the tactics that killed our Lord? How can you speak of the dignity of the preborn if you will not defend the dignity of even those we fear? Was not Jesus feared and reviled by the people and political establishment of His day?"
I encourage my readers to pray the Stations of the Cross and see Jesus as the Tortured Christ. As you meditate on the Stations, think of the innocent men and women we have tortured at Abu Ghraib, CIA blacksites, and Guantanamo Bay. See Jesus in those who were humiliated, mocked, beaten, and mutilated. Pray for the victims of torture, the conversion of its defenders and perpetrators, and for the resolve to stop torture in all its forms in our society today.