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Matthew 27:33. And when they came to a place called Golgotha…
I am not a fan of capital punishment. I find the last words of a condemned man in South Carolina to be persuasive, “It was wrong when I did it, and it is probably wrong when you do it.” Those who favor the death penalty often cite it as a deterrent to future criminals. They might take a lesson from the Romans, who made sure that executions were painfully public.
Golgotha was a place where people passed by. Crucifixions lasted for hours so that everyone had a chance to see them and be deterred. First-century crosses included a small seat so the dying could ease their pain, thereby prolonging their death. Roman logic would suggest that in our day executions be required prime time viewing and last at least as long as any other reality show. Our reluctance to follow their reasoning may indicate some discomfort with our own thinking.
The question of what to do with those who threaten and frighten us is complicated and worthy of serious discussion by faithful people. Those discussions could well include the Roman honesty about what is required to make an example of someone, as well as the possibility of executing the innocent.
Today the Church remembers Mary and Martha of Bethany.