Story Inspired By A Story Published In Reuters
On his back he laid with eyes closed. The sun was hot and there was a crowd of people around him. They stood in a large circle that was three people deep and two large men stood at his side. They stood without shirts on, their hands behind their backs, their eyes closed. It was quiet.
The people standing in the circle had their heads hanging below their shoulders. The sun hit the backs of their necks and their shadows fell in small black spots at their feet.
When the man opened his eyes he spoke quietly.
“I am ready.”
The crowd standing around him opened their eyes. The old ones put their arms on the shoulders of the young. The scared ones crossed themselves. The curious ones inched forward. The timid ones began to mumble prayers and the brave one laid on his back on a splintery four by four, his eyes blinded by the high noon sun.
His wrists were tied to the wood and the two large men knelt down at his side. They spoke quietly, and in unison, with their hands hanging over the man’s fearful face.
“Have Mercy on me, oh God,” they said. “According to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away my iniquity. Cleanse me from my sins.”
The crowd mumbled, too, and when the two men stood up they grabbed a hammer and a large metal nail. The prayer in the crowd grew louder as they held the nail over the man’s hand. Then the hammer struck. The clang of metal on metal was muted by the piercing screen of the man on the cross. The hammer struck again and the crowd jumped back.
Blood fell onto the sand and the man on the cross began to weep. The prayer grew louder as the hammer rose again.
“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to You,” they yelled. “Save me from blood guilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.”
The two men moved around to the other side of the large wooden cross. The man wept and bled and the crowd stood and watched.
There were other circles, and other men, and other screams, and other blood. And somewhere between the religious mutilation was a man selling water for $2 a bottle.
He raised the hammer again and drove the final nail thew the brave man’s hand. The new Christ screamed and wept and the circle closed in to help lift the cross.
Those in the front kissed his feet and thanked him for his sacrifice. Those in the back prayed for their salvation. And those on the hill took pictures as the blood dripped down into the sand.
Story Inspired By A Story Published In Reuters: “The re-enactment of the passion of Jesus Christ draws thousands of tourists to the Pampanga region, 80 km (50 miles) north of the capital, to watch barefoot penitents flagellate themselves and a series of crucifixions on an artificial hill.”