April 2, 2021
Today, I am not thinking about nor imagining Jesus hanging on his cross. Rather, I am visualizing and imagining all the people I know who are nailed to the crosses in their own lives.
I think of…
Margaret and all who are working through breast cancer,
Elizabeth and all who have experienced miscarriages,
Ron whose body is falling apart as older age lets go of him,
Karen and all who have suffered various kinds of strokes,
Patricia as she seeks to end an unfulfilled relationship with her husband,
Debi whose healthy husband dropped dead right in front of her,
Desmond in his late 40’s who committed suicide, and
Eric, a very sweet man, with wife and teenage daughters, who is a prisoner of his body because of a blastoma tumor, whose eyes and smile are the only things that speak.
I am not remembering Jesus who died on a cross and is now off it. I am thinking about and praying for those who are still on their crosses, and for the hurting to the moment when they can say as Jesus did: “It is finished.”
I am also thinking about the tones of voice that each of these people will experience when they say “it is finished.” A tone of anger, a tone of despair, a tone of gratitude, a tone of fear, a tone of complete trust?
What I am thinking about really is how we reach the end of any cross with faith and trust in God. It is heartbreaking to see people, persons whom we know, caught in the crosshairs of their physical and psychological crosses. Despite whatever therapies and medicines, to see their helplessness and our helplessness to do anything for them, but to pray that somehow, from somewhere, that God is there to accompany them, to still them, to grant them something, to comfort them, that we cannot do. We stand and look and watch. In today’s Passion story, “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother Mary and his mother’s sister, Mary, wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.” I want to stand today with those I know who are suffering.
If there is anyone with whom to identify today, it is with the servant of God who Isaiah the prophet imagines. That good person, who was pushed and shoved, beaten and scorned, a person who was so close to God, his friend, who had this demeanor and spirituality to take everything onto himself, to relieve others, silent, no outbursts of anger, treated badly. “If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him,” Isaiah writes.
“Because of his affliction, he shall see light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.”
Our own suffering and walking the way of the cross can help others to bear theirs. God invites us to be a light to others, an encouragement to lighten our load and the loads of others.
Today, I am thinking about real life and how real life unfolds itself, not as the TV publicity of artful cars, make-up, aging creams, luxury for sale, life that is pumped up, which does not last.
There is something deeper that is going on here leading us to an eternity that we long for deep inside our souls. It is not going to be easy or painless to get out of here. Jesus is showing us that.
So, I want to know how Jesus did it so that I might have a chance to do it as well. We get a glimpse of an answer today.
Today’s letter to the Hebrews talks about Jesus as a great high priest. He does not look like one on the cross. He is described as one who sympathizes with us, as he passes through the heavens; He is tested like us. He hoped he could have escaped, but ended up showing us how to pray, how to cry, how to suffer, how to believe and how to trust His Father. He learned a kind of obedience that brought a freedom which allows him to become our source of eternal salvation.
So, Jesus is more than some historical figure nailed to a cross. He is the divine human one who stands in the middle of life, to walk us through life, to open the next chapter of our lives.
I hope that Jesus is doing that for all those that I am thinking about today.
Today’s Passion story begins with Jesus’ enemies trying to find and arrest him. As they approach him, Jesus asks “whom are you looking for? And Jesus answers “I am he.” The words, “I am” are more than a personal identification tag, they are the Hebrew words for The Name of God. “I am God here for you,” Jesus says.
Today, Jesus wants us to find his Father, in a very personal and trusting way, to find the presence and inspiration of God in all the places and steps in our lives, to intuit the hand of God leading us and accompanying us and to find this loving and gracious God in all our difficulties and sufferings.
I believe that Jesus wants us to carry each other through the ups and downs of life and through those most difficult moments until all is “finished.”
And so, I pray today. “Help me, O Jesus, to receive what comes my way, and help me to walk with faith and humor, with good medicine and with good love. May those who love me, encourage me, and soften the rough edges of discomfort. If it becomes the only way to go, let me walk quickly through the unpleasant to the warm and quiet embrace of eternal life. Create in me, O God, a supple and open heart. I thank you for the life I have lived here. The truth to which you testified, Jesus, is the truth of an eternal life. Help me to get where you are, with your serene spirit and trust in your Father.”
Today, I will continue to reflect about all who carry their crosses today so that they will find what you found when “it is finished.”