Good Friday 2019 Meditation
Good Friday 2019
Read: Luke 23:32-49
Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution. When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:32-34a)
The Holy Week when our daughter Sofia was 5 years-old, she and my spouse, Thomas, went to the grocery store. When they returned Thomas said, Your daughter has a question for you.
Knowing our daughter, I wanted a little heads-up beyond just that she had a question. What is it?
I asked. She asked me right there in the middle of the grocery store, “Papa, why did they crucify Jesus?”,
Thomas responded. What did you say to her
?, I asked him. I told her she needed to ask her mother!
It is the question of the day. Why did they crucify Jesus? The historic answer is that Jesus was crucified because he challenged the cultural norms and the religious and secular laws of his time and unsettled the leaders of the temple and even the Roman Empire. Jesus preached a word of unconditional love that could not be contained or governed to the satisfaction of those in charge. His very presence and the authority, grace, and mercy that flowed from him threatened those who stood to lose their privileged place in society. Even those who devoted their lives to upholding the rules of faithful righteousness could not see that Jesus came to lead the world to an even higher righteousness.
The faith response is that Jesus was crucified to save our souls, redeem us from our sin, and free all of Creation from the burden of human sin. Jesus was crucified because the world failed to understand God’s hope for it, resisted the One before them who came in the name of the Lord, and succumbed to the idolatry of believing that we rule the world and that it is ours to rule and do with as we please.
I believe that God calls us to be the best stewards of our lives, our communities of faith, our nation states, the planet, and beyond. However, I believe this is best done in the humble awareness that we are accountable to God, whose vision for this world is clearly shown to us in Jesus who died on a cross for all of God’s creation.
Like a criminal Jesus was executed. His pain and suffering were real. He was tortured and crucified. In death his side was pierced, like you poke a slaughtered animal to make sure it’s dead. The One without sin carried the sins of the world, including our sins. It was an unforgivable act! But even through the cruel pain and anguish of torture and crucifixion, Jesus continues to teach us about forgiveness.
From the cross Jesus considers the hatred, ignorance, apathy, and betrayal of those before him and forgives them. He forgives the criminal crucified with him who recognized the injustice of inflicting capital punishment upon Jesus. When this criminal’s heart is made tender in the presence of Jesus and he believes, saying to him, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,
Jesus not only forgives him, but redeems him for eternity.
Jesus’ loving heart extended grace – not condemnation, but grace – to this dying man next to him, a real life criminal. Jesus said to him, I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.
There is no greater love than the love we learn from Jesus.
The evening of the day when Sofia asked us that most difficult question, Why did they crucify Jesus?
I sat with her on her bed and confessed to her that her question was a difficult one. She looked at me with her big hazel eyes filled with concern. I held her little chubby hand nervously and finally said to her that killing Jesus was wrong, but something good had come out of his death.
In dying Jesus had shown us how much God loves us. What would make Jesus happy would be for us to love one another as much as God loves us. We can do that, can’t we Sweetie; love everyone like God loves us?
I asked her. She smiled and nodded, saying, Yes, we can, Mama
On the cross Jesus teaches us that the rightful response to an unforgivable act is to find a way to love.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño