Friday, April 06, 2012

The Sacred Paschal Triduum
Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)
On A Day Like This...

Readings: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
Picture: cc david_jones

Sisters and brothers, what does one do at a time like this? What is the appropriate thing to do on a day like today? Today is Good Friday. Today a man is arrested, and cruelly tortured, and subjected to a shameful death–a criminal’s death–on a cross.

What does one do on a day like this?

The Scriptures offer us examples of what others do. There are, of course, those who are responsible for this terrible thing. Those who even work hard to bring it about. The enemies of Jesus plot to have Him killed. Judas Iscariot, one of His closest disciples, betrays Him into their hands. And his judge and executioners, together with the crowds, are somehow manipulated into helping to bring the plan to its deadly conclusion.

What does one do on a day like this?

For the unscrupulous and the unknowing, one does whatever one can to add to the suffering, to hasten the slaughter.

And then there are those who simply turn and run away. Those who cannot bear the sight. Those who dare not be associated with a scene such as this. For, as the Scriptures tell us: so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human. He was a thing despised and rejected by men... a man to make people screen their faces; he was despised and we took no account of him. Those who saw him in the street ran far away from Him.

What does one do on a day like this?

For those who give in to timidity and fear, one strives to distance oneself, if not physically, then at least emotionally, psychologically. One distracts oneself with other things. Even apparently important things. One simply turns and runs away.

But then there are those who choose to remain. In body and in spirit. In proximity and in solidarity. As the gospel tells us: near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, together with a handful of women, and the disciple he loved. There was nothing they could do to remove His terrible suffering. But they did the next best thing. They stayed and kept watch. Through tear-filled eyes, and with breaking hearts, they bore silent witness.

What does one do on a day like this?

For those who have received love, and who love in return, one tries to remain as close as possible to the Beloved who suffers. To touch and to assure. To strengthen and to console. To watch and to remember.

What does one do on a day like this?

When a man suffers and dies on a cross? Much depends on who this man is, and why he suffers. The Scriptures provide us with the answers. This is no ordinary criminal. This is Jesus, the Son of God. The Supreme high priest. The One who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. And his sufferings are not really his own. No. Rather, he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins. On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed.

What does one do on a day like this?

When the Son of God gives his life as a ransom for many? What one does depends very much on what one allows oneself to see and to feel. Which is why, it is good to make our own these words from the Stabat Mater. To make our own this prayer addressed to Mary, the Mother of Jesus:
Make me feel as you have felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.
Sisters and brothers, today is the day of the Lord’s Passion. On a day like this, what will you be doing?

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