‘O happy fault!’

This phrase does not appear in the Bible but has been sung in the Easter celebration for two thousand years.

At the vigil on Easter night the Church recalls the key events in our human story beginning with the creation, as told in the Book of Genesis, and working its way through to the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter morning.  As the vigil gets into full swing the Church proclaims the Exultet, the exultation, a sustained cry of gratitude, in which she, as it were, spontaneously shouts these words.

They refer to Adam and Eve’s fall when they refused to follow the way God had laid out for them and decided to go their own way.  It was the archetypal refusal which informed all others. What the Church sings on that Easter night is the way God not only put this right for us through his passion and death but actually opened the way to an even higher destiny than was there before.

This may sound mysterious but when you see the knee of that man, whose name I forget, on the neck of George Floyd whose name we cannot forget, you begin to see some kind of opening to our understanding. O Happy Fault! There is one saying that kept being repeated about C19, ‘this is unprecedented’, and likewise there is a saying associated with George Floyd, ‘this time it is different’. If our expectations are fulfilled this terrible event – kneeling on a man’s neck for more than eight minutes and suffocating him – will shift attitudes in a way that has never happened before. Huge progress will be made in the long struggle to build a society which respects equality not just in its constitution but in its streets. O Happy Fault!

So this is the mystery. The man who killed George Floyd did something evil that will bring huge blessings, just as Pilate did something evil in condemning an innocent man and his death brought healing and wholeness to the nations. And we go on to consider the Jews.  In Jesus’ time, especially in the gospel of John, they are the ones who ‘prefer darkness to light’, but they do it representing all the generations of people everywhere who have continued to prefer darkness. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, struggles with the fact that he is himself a Jew and he goes on to hint that the time is coming when they, together with Pilate and the man who killed George Floyd, will know that the evil they have done has been turned by God into a blessing for the nations.

Our readings this Sunday start off with a shout from the prophet Zechariah: ‘Rejoice, heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout with gladness, daughter of Jerusalem, See how your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant …’ Zechariah knew.

5 July 2020      Sunday 14 A  Zech 9:9-10         Rom 8:9-13     Matt 11:25-30

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