“The Nun who taught me my Catholic catechism taught on the subject of hell like she was born and raised there.”
I remember laughing so hard when I first heard this line on a standup comedy show years ago. It resonated so much because it’s such a fitting description of the Nun who taught me.
Every Sunday afternoon, catechumens met in six South for formation classes. I forget her name now but she was a sweet Kamba Nun. Those on the non-teaching staff usually were. Sweet, not always Kamba. Those on the teaching staff, well, that’s a story for another day.
All that sweetness and Christ like demeanor did nothing to deter her from instilling the fear of God in us using reverse psychology – The fear of hell.
She described it in such vivid detail I had little doubt in my ten-year-old mind she had been there. She seemed to know where everything was kept. From the dark wall against which the devil placed his huge barbeque fork when he was done roasting sinners for the day, to the hook upon said dark wall where his able assistant Jezebel hang her red bra.
I religiously said the Angelus and went to confession asking God to spare me the wrath of that horrible place. Those classes did a lot in keeping me on the straight and narrow through the turbulent teenage years that lay ahead. They influence the way I raise my children and the conversations I have with them about God and the universe.
One of the stories that has stayed with me is the story of the passion of Christ.
The Easter story.
It is, in my view, life’s true North. Everything we will inevitably encounter and need to navigate life’s journey is contained therein. Life, death, love, Hope, betrayal, forgiveness, trust, human cruelty, kindness, indecisive leadership, mob psychology,
It is so great that all the books of the Gospel talk about it.
Yet, there is little fanfare surrounding it. No Easter songs on the radio, no gift giving, no decorations at the mall. Compared to Christmas, Easter just happens, with little recognition.
At Mama approved, we try to keep things nonpolitical and non-religious. You know, to be accommodating of everyone. We are living thorough interesting times. Where petitions have been successfully filed to remove Freedom of worship from our bill of rights, replacing it with freedom of conscience as the former discriminates those of a contrary belief. And you wonder why Yash Pal Ghai lost so much hair during that process.
Anyway, you get the point. Interesting times.
But this inclusivity notwithstanding, I found myself pondering what lessons a we can learn from the Easter story. Here’s what I came up with.
A politician will throw you under the bus to get elected. Pilate believed that Jesus was innocent of plotting against the Roman Empire. yet when the crowd refused to relent, he washed his hands, released a criminal and handed Jesus over to be crucified. Sound familiar? As we approach August, be reminded that a politician will do whatever it takes to get elected or in Pilates case, whatever guarantees him the title Prefect of Roman province of Judea.
Always carry a leso or scarf with you – This simple garment that can cover, conceal, shield or provide privacy. Little wonder it’s so central in many cultures. Infact, we read of it at Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, on his journey to Golgotha and at his burial. If you don’t own one, gift yourself this Easter. See how handy Veronica’s veil came in. The sixth station of the cross is dedicated to her wiping Jesus’s face. We all know what happened to that veil. If you don’t, read and while you’re at it, staff a scarf/leso in your handbag.
No matter how crazy your idea, someone will believe you – All of Judea was in agreement that this man was insane. The audacity of him walking around claiming to be the promised Messiah. Even his beloved Peter was beginning to doubt Him. Little wonder he denied knowing Him not once, but thrice. Yet at the cross, beaten, seemingly defeated and about to breath his last, a dying penitent thief believed Him. No matter how crazy your idea or agenda may seem to the world, don’t give up on it. Just because no one believes you doesn’t mean you’re not on to something great. As my friend Esther likes to say, It’s darkest before dawn.
Help often comes from the most unlikely places: My people have a saying that a Kikuyu, read total stranger, can come through for you better than a brother. The same was true for Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy man of the council whom the Bible says disagreed with the decision to crucify Him. According to all four gospels, he assumed responsibility for the burial of Jesus after the crucifixion. According to John, this secret disciple “asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission.” He purchased a linen shroud (See, the leso again) and placed in in a place previously bought for Joseph’s own tomb.
Trust is earned Jesus trusted his Apostle John so much so that at the cross, he left his mother in John’s care (Jesus, man! what’s with calling your mother woman?) Infact, John is referred to as the disciple that Jesus Loved. How did John earn Jesus’s trust so? When John and his brother James followed Jesus, Mark notes that their father Zebedee was left with the “hired men.” Luke’s mention of two boats further implies the family had some wealth. I haven’t seen any Biblical account of who of the two brothers was older but my guess is that John was. He stood to inherit the family business but chose to walk away from it convincing his brother to come along. I believe it is this total submission and willingness to give everything up to follow Christ that earned him Jesus’s confidence and Trust
Know your friends – Judas, I can’t even.
P.S. Jezebel’s Bra line stolen from Biko Zulu – Google him