A Message of Sacrifice

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Apr 3 2021

“Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty” 

                                                          – Thomas Jefferson

Today, Christians worldwide celebrate Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday, to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ who was crucified and killed on a Friday over 2,000 years ago by the Roman rulers of Israel for the offence of calling himself a king, but who rose again three days later on a Sunday, according to Christian belief and tradition.

However, Jesus’ claim to kingship that caused his death didn’t result in an armed rebellion against the Romans. In fact, he told the Jewish leaders (priests) who were jealous of him, when they questioned him as to whether it was right to pay taxes in order to trap him, “Render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s and unto God, the things that are God’s.” 

The crux of the Jewish leaders’ prosecution argument when they hauled Jesus before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate for judgment was that Jesus calling himself king of the Jews, was a treasonable offence, punishable by death, by Roman law. 

When Pilate asked Jesus whether that was so? He replied, without giving a direct answer, “You said it.” Almost simultaneously, the Jewish leaders then shouted and cried, “We have no king but Caesar.”

Fearing the Jews, Pilate virtually abdicated his responsibility and told the Jews to crucify him, when the Jews virtually in unison, had cried to Pilate, saying that they wanted Jesus crucified. 

Crucifixion was an important method of capital punishment particularly among the Persians, Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE , the Encyclopaedia Britannica said.

Meanwhile, Christians believe, as foretold by the Jewish Prophet Isaiah (800BC) who, in his writings prophesied the type of death that Jesus would suffer which the Prophet claimed was for the sins of all and also of his resurrection, typifying the resurrection of the souls of those who believed in Jesus after their physical death. 

In summation, the ethos of the Christian faith is that by Jesus’ death and resurrection it’s possible to obtain salvation from sin and eternal life only by trusting that Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, would cleanse the soul from sin, with the promise of eternal life, thereafter.

Nonetheless, it was only two years ago, on another Easter Sunday, Islamist terrorists attacked three churches in Sri Lanka celebrating Resurrection Sunday as well as three star class hotels in Colombo killing nearly 260 civilians and injuring more than 500 others.

Both Muslims and Christians are minorities in Sri Lanka, with Buddhists making the majority, comprising 70 per cent of Sri Lanka’s currently estimated population of 21.9 million.

 According to Sri Lanka’s last population census held in 2012, the island’s population then comprised 20.4 million of whom 70.1 per cent (14.3 million) were Buddhists, 12.6 per cent (2.6 million) Hindus, 9.7 per cent (two million) Muslims and 7.6 per cent (1.6 million) Christians, respectively.

And, two weeks after ‘Bloody Easter Sunday,’ on 5 May, 2019, allegedly Christian mobs, in retaliation, went on a ‘rampage’ in Negombo, damaging and/or destroying at least two motorcycles and two three-wheeler taxis belonging to Muslims. However, no one was injured in the incident. 

But, eight days later on 13 May 2019, i.e. 22 days after ‘Bloody Easter Sunday’ which took place on 21 April 2019, allegedly politically motivated mobs, some on motorbikes, also went on a rampage, attacking Muslims and their property in Minuwangoda, killing one and damaging a mosque, 41 Muslim owned shops, four houses and four vehicles.

Intelligence reports were there, warning of ‘Bloody Easter Sunday’ before it took place, but the then powers that be, like ‘Nero fiddling while Rome was burning’ and despite seemingly being versed and ‘being there’ and knowing of the events that led to Black July 1983, nevertheless chose to turn a blind eye.

Further, in telltale evidence that was presented just prior to ‘Bloody Easter Sunday,’ such as the killing of two Police Officers in Batticaloa and the vandalising of Buddhist statues in Mawanella in December 2018 and the discovery of explosives at Vanathavilluwa a month later in January 2019, howbeit, those in power then, like the three proverbial monkeys, “saw no evil; heard no evil and spoke no evil.”.

 Therefore, as an example and a warning, those who wielded authority then and who are still alive today, should be given the maximum penalty permissible by law, for acts of omission and commission, that led to events such as ‘Bloody Easter Sunday.’

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” were some of Jesus’ last words on the cross. An almost like ‘excusable’ ignorance ‘besetting’ those who oversaw the country’s affairs, two Easters ago however, may not be quite applicable. 

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Apr 3 2021

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