“Stoning prophets and erecting churches to their memory afterwards has been the way of the world through the ages. Today we worship Christ, but the Christ in the flesh we crucified.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
It seems to me that we spend the majority of our lives dealing with hindsight. We look at what our decisions were and what we did because of those decisions and, so often, we change the course of our lives because of our past.
Jesus knew His past just as all the prophets before Him knew their past. Their past was cruel and bloody. The great prophets were met with brutality and, most of them, were put to death. Why were they put to death? Because they brought God’s word to a people that not only did not want to hear it but who had actively rejected it.
Jesus brought God’s message as well. He was the Word that came from God. His message was challenging to hear and to embrace. His message mandated that people reject their selfish and sinful ways and return to the Lord. His message challenged people to go the extra mile. His message urged the people to allow themselves to be perfected by God and not to succumb to their own vane wishes and desires.
The prophets before Jesus were rejected. They were most often put to death. After their deaths, their was that “oops” moment when the people realized, too late, that the prophets were speaking the truth to them. Because they rejected the instruction of the prophets, though, they found themselves facing dire consequences.
It was to be no different with Jesus. His people, by and large, did not want to listen to Him. They had their lives figured out. They had their own plans. They did not want to hear the necessity for repentance or perfection. So, they nailed Him to the cross and took His life in the most wretched way that was possible at His time.
Jesus, for His part, did what all His prophets before Him had done: He stayed the course. When they condemned Him to death, He could have walked away. When they taunted Him to come down from the cross, He could have done so. But He remained on the cross, suffering greatly and dying a horrible death. He did that because He knew that was the means for our salvation.
Good Friday always pains me. Each year it becomes worse for me because I have another year of my life upon which to reflect. I know that Jesus died for my sins and that my sins caused Him incredible pain and suffering before His death. I look at my life and ask Him to forgive me and to help me to allow Him to perfect me.
I know that I will be in the same position the next year because I don’t always like His idea of perfection. Letting go of our sins is difficult, is it not? We often continue sinning because, even though it hurts us, it is predictable. There is a certain rhythm into which we place ourselves in our lives. The call to perfection demands that we break that rhythm, that routine, and to trust in someone other than ourselves.
Today, we contemplate the supreme sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross. We look into His eyes and we implore, “Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
FAITH ACTION: Reflect upon how it was necessary for Jesus to die for your sins and acknowledge to Him your sorrow for the suffering you made Him endure.
Remember: Good Friday is a Day of Fast and Abstinence