Since my youth, Good Friday is a day that I spend quietly alone. Year after year I am overwhelmed by the deepening awareness that Jesus willingly died to free me from my sins, out of love. May I share a prayerful way that has helped me deepen this conviction?
I begin by placing myself on Calvary, before Jesus on the cross, reflecting on his Seven Last Words.
"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
"Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise."
"Woman, behold your son," Jesus say to John, who represents all of us. Then he completes his thought saying to all of us: "Behold your Mother." Jesus gifts us with his mother. His concern for us reaches beyond his death. The mother of God is now also my mother. The mother who gave birth to him will re-create his life in us.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I guess that at times each of us feels that the face of God is hidden. Death, illness, broken relationships, and human tragedies of all types can plunge us into darkness. "Where is God in all of this?", we may cry. Turning to scripture - as Jesus does here praying Psalm 22 - always helps me. It may be a beautiful day outside and if I lock myself in my room with the lights off and the blinds and drapes closed, that does not mean the sun has stopped shining. Opening my bible is like opening the blinds. That's where the light is.
"I thirst." Years ago a doctor was telling me of a patient who died an agonizing death from dehydration. He explained that since every part of the human body needs water, when there is a deprivation of water, then every single part of the body suffers. I often think that when sin infects some 'cells' of the mystical body, then every single part of the body suffers. Jesus' thirst for souls then becomes my thirst, calling me to pray for all the members of His body, the Church.
"It is accomplished." I see this 'word' as a victory cry. Humanly, Jesus may have seen how much more there was to do, but he humbly places the completion of his mission in God's hands. What an example for us. We do the best that we can and allow God to complete our mission, whether it's our family, our professional or our personal life.
"Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit." Picture this dramatic scene. For three hours darkness has covered the earth due to an eclipse. The veil of the temple is split. And then the LOUD voice of Jesus cries out these words and dies. I pray that my last words may reflect such profound trust and love of God.
May these prayerful reflections on Jesus' last words lead us to a deeper union with our suffering Savior and someday to our unending union with him in eternity.
Collaborative Ministry Office