Day 40: Why Have We Abandoned Them?
BY KAREN CLIFTON | March 25, 2018
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
After watching our country put people to death monthly over these last 20 years, I read the Passion narrative in a completely new light.
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Ps 22:2) has become “My God, my God, why have we abandoned them?”
When Jesus was arrested and brought into custody, he was stripped, scourged, and spat upon. It reminds me of the numerous stories of false confessions given after threats, beatings, and deprivation of food, water, and sleep.
Jesus challenged the status quo of the religious authorities who produced false witnesses at one of his 3 religious trials (Mk 14: 55-60). We commonly execute people solely on the witness of jailhouse informants who have been offered leniency and use juries which exclude anyone opposed to the death penalty.
Jesus was crowned with thorns, mocked, blindfolded and struck with reeds (Mk 15:6-20). Most on death row are tortured by solitary confinement 23 hours a day, erratic, substandard food, and the terror of their imminent death.
The nailing of Jesus to a cross evokes the image of the convicted on the gurney, arms extended for IV placement. Failed executions are common because non-medical personnel frequently botch the job. No one knows whether the drugs used work as quickly and painlessly as intended because the compounded drugs used are veiled in secrecy laws.
The Passion is the ultimate picture of God’s solidarity with all of us as frail humans who are easily swayed from choosing life. Jesus always identified with the outcast, the sinners, and the disabled.
My God, my God, why have we abandoned them?
The Passion, as cruel as it was, is the foremost lesson in the unimaginable forgiveness and mercy of God. This Lent, God has been leading us towards wholeness in preparation for the joy of Easter.
As we prepare to begin this Holy Week, let’s take action to stop the practice of state-sanctioned executions. Join Catholic Mobilizing Network’s Mercy in Action Project and receive the tools you need to help stop upcoming executions.
Karen Clifton is the Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network. She began her work against the death penalty in 1996 in Houston, Texas, when her social justice and advocacy projects intersected with those of Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ. In 2008, Karen spearheaded the formation of Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN).
Headquartered in Washington, DC, CMN seeks to apply the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life in the areas of capital punishment and restorative justice.
Karen has been an organizer and advocate since 1990. Her work has been associated with the Catholic Worker, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the San Jose Clinic, AIDS ministry and she is the DC Coordinator for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Karen holds a Masters in Divinity from University of St. Thomas, St. Mary’s School of Theology, and has worked in spiritual direction since 1996, and is active in her parish in Washington, DC. She is the mother of five adult children and grandmother to seven grandchildren. Karen was awarded the 2011 Servitor Pacis Award by the Path to Peace Foundation, the Mission of the Vatican to the United Nations to promote peace.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I used to be for Capital Punishment until I read and researched the case of the wife who had her husband killed in Georgia and last year she finally was executed. she didn’t kill him herself but she hired a hit man and that person had a plea bargain, and the lady was in jail for over a decade. Her execution by the state was halted. There was a stay, but in the time of 10+ years I noticed that God worked in her to the point that she became like the Prison Chaplain, and was converting hundreds of prisoners in for minor offenses and later released, to have the women say that this chaplain changed their life told them to do well. In other words she became a mentor and evangelist within the prison.
So I changed my perspective and God spoke to me as I prayed for this woman, that in life, we never know where God is going to use people and at what point will he convert people to move them in the direction of service toward HIM who created us for higher and great purposes. The road to this woman’s conversion towards the heart of God was inside prison. So why not allow God’s will to work, instead of publicly executing someone who you h ave no business punishing because Justice is always God’s! ANd in this way I had already seen that this woman’s life was being redeemed inside prison. Look her up, it’s a real case! She changed my mind about now, NO to Capital Punishment. Who are we, but limited earthly people, to know how and when God will work to convert peoples lives in his own way and on HIS time!