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'Where you stand determines what you see': Archbishop Justin on Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day'

Friday 29th March 2013

Speaking on Radio 4's Thought for the Day this Good Friday morning, Archbishop Justin said that news coverage of this week's financial bail-out of Cyprus shows the limits of single perspectives. Just like those watching Jesus on the cross, he said, "where you stand determines what you see."

Pilgrims walk with crosses as the Northern Cross pilgrimage makes its final leg of the journey to Holy Island on April 29, 2013 in Berwick-upon-Tweed, EnglandPilgrims walk with crosses as the Northern Cross pilgrimage makes its final leg of the journey to Holy Island on March 29, 2013 in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

This week, Cyprus became the latest country to need a bail-out from the international community. In his first appearance on Radio 4's Thought for the Day, Archbishop Justin noted that news coverage of these events revealed two radically different stories: in one, bureaucrats enjoying the satisfaction of a deal well done; in the other, a country of ordinary people rocked by uncertainty and despair.

In the same way, the Archbishop said, the story of Good Friday presents us with two starkly opposed narratives: the ruling class efficiently doing their job by killing Jesus; the women and disciples left traumatised and without hope. But, he said, "both were wrong."

"Whoever you are, whether rulers and rich, or ordinary people dealing with the worst of times, the death of Jesus is both a challenge and a promise of hope," he said.


 

Read the full text below or listen again on the BBC website.

'This week Cyprus became the latest country to need a bail out from the European Union, the IMF and others. By the standards of the last few years the money involved was small, €10 billion if you call that small, but the impact is overwhelming. On Wednesday I saw, side by side, two stories about the bail-out. One told of a deal done, an agreement reached, and satisfaction over a complex a diff job completed. The other revealed companies running out of cash, people in despair, a whole country heading into penury, not just the banking sector. At that point, there was not even much rage, just grim acceptance.

As we all know well, where you stand determines what you see. Good editing of that paper made me see two views. The impact was more powerful because neither made any comment. They just told the story.

In the different accounts of the crucifixion there is a similar grim sense of factual narrative. The remorseless process of crucifixion is recounted sparingly. The injustice of trial, the casual flogging, the mockery, are narrated without much description of the emotion or pain. Two groups went away at the end of the process. One was the ruling class. A tough but necessary job was done, and done well and neatly. The others were the women who supported Jesus and a few disciples. They left traumatised, fearful, despairing, every dream of the future gone. Both were wrong.

The rulers discovered that God is not held down by human failure and foolishness, even by human wickedness and injustice. They saw Jesus as a mere man, and loaded hatred and fear onto him. They did not realise that the power of the love that God expressed in Him would swallow the hate and destroy it. The women discovered that the love they knew was more than merely human. They saw Jesus as wonderful but defeated. The next few days would show that he was in fact utterly triumphant and far more than wonderful.

Good Friday is an extraordinary day. Whoever you are, whether rulers and rich, or ordinary people dealing with the worst of times, the death of Jesus is both a challenge and a promise of hope. The challenge is to show that same self-giving love for the sake of others. The promise is that nothing is beyond His reach and even despair can be healed.'

© Justin Welby 2013

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