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Inside NCR

Last questions under the cross, with answers

In the "Inside Box" of the April 4 issue, which mused about journalists covering the crucifixion, we invited readers to ask, journalist fashion, the last question they would ask of Jesus, and then to suggest Jesus' likely answer. The reactions were interesting.

"Why are so many women here to compassionate with you, and only one man (Matt. 27:55-56)?" (John E. Dougher of Yorktown, Va.)

Jesus: "The women have been standing as silent witnesses against the inhumanness of our male, nonrelational power structures for millennia."

"Where is God your Father now?" (Fr. Edward Kelly, Arlington, Va.)

"I do not know why, but he has abandoned me. But, while I taste only the despair of excruciating pain and abject failure, yet I die trusting that God is somehow in the dregs of this chalice I drink."

"Why does life seem meaningless since the Holocaust?" (Margie Gilbert, Corinna, Maine)

Read the Hebrew Bible, Hillel, the Talmud; you will see where I found my God, my meaning. You will see my people's history as a crucifixion."

"Why?" (Fr. Joseph Protano Jr., Providence, R.I.)

"Only God knows."

"Can women image you?" (Mary Aktay, Convent Station, N.J.)

"Do I not image a woman? When you see me, do you not see my mother as well as the Father?"

Adds Aktay: "It would be just like Jesus to answer a question with a question because he knows we already know the answer.

(Joy Gemperline, coordinator of religious education at St. Bartholomew Consolidated School in Cincinnati, made this a classroom project. The following are the responses of five eighth-graders.)

"Are you ever going to come back to earth?" (Nathan Alering)

"Yes, I will. You will never know who I am. I may be a bum or a rich person; you will never know. Just be nice to everyone."

"Why did you come as a servant, not as a king?" (Scott King)

"I came as a servant to fulfill the scriptures of past prophets and to show that it doesn't matter what rank of society you are; love and forgiveness rule all."

"What could I do to lessen your pain?" (Chris Nuhn)

"Follow in my footsteps and do what I have done. Try to live as I have lived."

"What religion would you consider God's religion?" (Jesse Stark)

"All people who act as best they can according to their beliefs and knowledge."

"Are we worth you dying on the cross for us?" (Mary Crosset)

"You are worth it. Are you willing to receive it?"

When Sr. Yolanda De Mola writes to say she's on the steering committee and "our funds are next to nada,"one naturally is on guard knowing she's going to make a pitch for the 25th anniversary of Las Hermanas," a national organization of Hispanic Catholic women," as if everyone didn't know. They're celebrating July 25-27 at the College of Mount St. Vincent, Riverdale, N.Y.

Catholic Hispanic women, religious and lay, are invited to attend. Contact: Sr. Arleen Ketchum at (212) 308-9885; or Rosie Soto at (718) 829-1448; or write Sr. Maria Iglesias at 52 3rd Ave., Garwood, N.J. 07027.

Las Hermanas "has participated in many liberation and justice struggles," De Mola says, "and continues to be a catalyst for change." No wonder their funds are next to nada.

-- Michael Farrell

National Catholic Reporter, May 9, 1997