Earlier today we celebrated The Passion in Kilmovee Parish Church. This evening we prayed The Way of The Cross and reflected on parts of the Passion Gospel text in Urlaur Church.
At the eleventh station, where Jesus in nailed to the cross, I was drawn to reflect on the soldiers who hammered the nails home. How did they feel? How could they justify such a barbaric act? It struck me they could say “I was just doing my job” or “I was following orders”. It was nothing personal!
We can, at times, hide all too easily behind the job. The “job” can harden us or, perhaps more accurately put, render us cold in the perception of others.
Following my mother’s death I went to register the death. The lady I met took the death certificate from me and told me to wait outside. She said she’d call me. She did! We sat in front of a computer screen where she’d entered all the relevant information. She went through it line by line and asked if it was accurate. I said yes so she gave me an electronic pen and asked me to sign. She printed a few copies of the Certificate of Death and gave them to me. All fine – job done – certificates in hand but there was something missing. There was no warmth and no apparent sense of empathy. I left the building somewhat colder from the experience.
A few weeks ago, I went to register my father’s death. I met another lady and when I told her my father had died she said “I am sorry for your loss”. She asked me to wait in the designated area and duly called me in. Again, we sat at a computer screen. She went through my father’s details and said “are you happy with that?” I said “Yes, but I am happier with you”. She was taken aback and asked what I meant. I told her that when I registered my mother’s death I had found it a very cold, if not hard, experience. I said this was a very different experience. I thanked her. I left the office with the same forms but a different feeling. The tone was different though the work done was the same.
At times we can let coldness slip into our work and lose the common touch. The people with whom we deal can all too easily become statistics. There’s nothing personal.
Could that be part of the reason the soldiers were able to bring hammers down on nails?