March 24 2013


Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. – Luke 23: 42

   We begin that week in the Church Year when our attention is directed unmistakably & inevitably to the central symbol of our Christian faith: the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. But we need to be on guard, lest we permit ourselves to indulge in an unchristian pity for Jesus. We need to avoid the “poor Jesus” theme. The events of Holy Week are triumphant events, in which the victory of Love is achieved, not so much in spite of, as through, the agony & death of our Lord. We are nearing Good Friday, not sad Friday nor bad Friday, even if men did their worst on that day. Paradoxically, we christians see it as an enormous victory that confirms & validates, what once was done on a Cross outside the walls of Jerusalem.

   I doubt there is any other faith that has dared to assert that “in the midst of death we are in life.” Out Lord’s victory is not like the conventional happy ending added to a nasty story lest we feel too let down, but rather because the victory is by means of His defeat. This means that we should never see the cross save in the glory of the resurrection, nor Easter triumph save in the light of crucifixion.

   Let us never think, even for one moment, that the Gospel is easy, a naïve faith, an undemanding response. What Holy Week makes very plain to us is that love includes suffering. Even human wisdom knows that love hurts. Yet love is also glory too, a triumph over circumstance.

   Look, for a moment, at the so-called “good” thief. He made no excuses for the kind of life he had lived, & accepted responsibility for it. Unlike so many in prison, he felt his punishment was deserved. He recognized his unworthiness in the presence of true innocence. Yet he was humble enough to ask our Lord for mercy, & despite the odds, it was granted.

   I would like to think that all of us can identify with this fellow. What saved him was his humility, which does not mean thinking badly of himself, but being realistic about himself. It requires a rare honesty. For all our faults & failings, God deems us worth redeeming, worth salvaging. Obviously, He knows something we do not. That is why we can call it Good Friday!  AMEN!