Bishop Nick reflects on the judgement of love for this Good Friday

Bishop Nick has written powerfully about about how love can liberate us with its judgement, rather than chain us down.
His Good Friday reflection can be read below.

The judgment of love

"“Who are you to judge me?” This is the reflex of those of us who end up on the wrong end of someone else’s criticism. Our self-defensive barricades spring up. But, it doesn’t allow us to escape responsibility … or the truth.

"Part of our problem is that we often assume judgment to be negative and possibly unjust. When we look at the Easter story we realise that this isn’t necessarily the case.

"I am haunted by the image of Jesus kneeling at the feet of his friends and washing them – an act (not a mere gesture) of humility and service, modelling a different way of leading and teaching. And, lest we forget, the feet Jesus washes include those belonging to Judas (who would soon betray him), Peter (who, despite protesting undying loyalty, will soon deny even knowing him), and the other men who will desert him at the last. Nothing romantic here.

"As Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate, refusing to say the words that will save him his suffering and death, he reverses the lens and judges the judge. On the cross he refuses to pour hostile judgment on anyone, however deserving they might be of it.

"Yet, the heart of this way of judging is to be found explicitly in an encounter Jesus has on a beach after the resurrection. His friends have returned to their old stamping ground, seeking refuge in familiarity. The risen Jesus, the wound marks visible in his body, takes his disappointing friend Peter for a walk up the beach, a reflection of their first encounter at this place of work. Three times he asks Peter about his love and the now illusion-free friend, stripped of pretence or hubris, feels himself judged not by justified critique, but by love.

"His love is judged by love and in love. And thus Jesus shows even you and me that we are always judged accordingly – in love and by love.

"This Easter the Church celebrates a resurrection that does not deny the reality or power of grief or loss or suffering. Rather, it celebrates that love is never overcome by them.

"It is this that should guide us as we emerge into the future and shape our witness to the liberation of love and mercy."

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