“The violence of Good Friday has nothing to do with God!” insisted Jesuit theologian Michael Kirwan SJ, in a Zoomcast on March 30th to members and supporters of ACI.
Director of the Loyola Institute in Trinity College, Dublin, Fr Kirwan defended this assertion by pointing to the ‘Divine Reproaches’ read at all Catholic Good Friday services.
Beginning with the words ‘O my people, how have I offended you? How have I grieved you? Answer me!’ – these laments make clear that God the Father is in solidarity not just with Jesus on the Cross but with all victims of unjust violence.
This passage in Fr Kirwan’s talk occurs about 38 minutes into the recording of the event, now clickable below.
Michael Kirwan was introducing the key ideas of the American-French thinker, René Girard – who saw clearly that ‘religion does funny things to people’ in their immature encounters with it. Even Jesus’s disciples became tangled in rivalry and conflict when he spoke of the Kingdom of God – because we have a natural inclination toward wanting to be superior, to be ‘the greatest’.
So, according to Fr Kirwan, the violence of the Good Friday events has nothing to do with “God sending his son to be some kind of expiatory sacrifice. It is not about God punishing his son. The violence of Good Friday is entirely the violence of human beings – and pious human beings at that.”
To access the complete recording, click the ‘Forward’ button below.
This website has an entire section devoted to René Girard’s philosophical approach to scripture and its stories of violence – from Cain’s murder of his brother Abel in the Book of Genesis to the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the Book of Revelation.Dr Michael Kirwan is Director of the Loyola Institute based in Trinity College Dublin and Assistant Professor of Theology in the Catholic Tradition. He is the author of Discovering Girard (Darton, Longman and Todd 2004) a recognised introduction to the seminal insights of one of the most influential thinkers of our time.