In our journey through the Gospel of John, we find ourselves today experiencing Good Friday in November. When I consider that we will also commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance this week, it doesn’t seem all that out of the ordinary. For what we are talking about today is a crime of hate that was predicated on a hatred for queerness. The events that led to the passion of the Christ has occurred and continues to occur over and over again in the dehumanization and murder of transpersons all over the world. The characters and situations show up over and over again.
The only person that could have saved Jesus from the hate crime he was about to experience was Pilate. In the midst of mob hatred, Pilate declared the events unjust and washed his hands of responsibility. How many Pilates do you know? I regularly encounter people who consistently seek to wash their hands of injustice and act as if they are innocent. Just because you didn’t pull the trigger, doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for murdering someone or their character or their livelihood or their hope. So often we don’t intervene when transphobia is going on because we are trying to protect our status, our jobs and our lives. The lesson of Pilate is that when you wash your hands and look away…you are exactly what your souls tells you you are…guilty of the hate crime that you failed to stop.
The crowd screamed for death. Make no mistake, Jesus was and is queer in a world of hate. These people did not want to kill Jesus because he was a safe normal person. The folks wanted to kill Jesus because Jesus was the queerest thing they had ever encountered. Societies have consistently sought to kill the Queer. If you choose to be who you are in our world and stand up to the demanded normativities of all sides, they will come for you too.
Jesus is humiliated, beaten, tortured and dehumanized before Jesus is killed. In those final moments, Jesus speaks a word of forgiveness. This week as we remember the victims of transphobic hate crimes, may our prayers not be too far from those who perpetuated these crimes. For if we can follow the example of Jesus and find it deep within to forgive even the most heinous acts of transphobia, then love will win and we will begin to see the society of equality that we so desperately want to see.
Love begins within, moves to shape without and pushes until we all arrive at a world where all people are allowed to live as exactly that which they were created to be…queer.