Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

"And bowing His head, He handed over the Spirit."

At this point, the world trembles in silence because the king has fallen asleep. The long affair of leading the Innocent Lamb to the slaughter or the sheep to the shearers, the bloody affair of cutting him off from the land of the living and assigning him a grave among the wicked, is finally over. And the world is silent.

In the Passion Narrative from John's Gospel, we hear a lot about Jesus's trial as he is shuffled around between Annas and Pilate and the high priests and the Roman soldiers, and it can all feel very noisy when we really pray into it. As we watch the soldiers and the high priests ridicule Jesus on the Cross, it can feel like there is no safe refuge left in the world as we watch Love itself be snuffed out by hatred.

But even as we watch Jesus, who was sent on a mission of love by his Father, allow his life to be violently ended by hatred, we have to notice that Jesus is in control the whole time. Even as he becomes the innocent victim for our sins, he is not a passive victim who just allows things to happen to him. He is the primary actor in this story. He chooses when to speak and when to remain silent. He fulfills the prophecies. He isn't abused unwillingly, he lets himself be abused. His whole life was directed to the Cross, and so handing over his spirit is his greatest moment, not his lowest. It was the ultimate act of obedience that restored the fallen world that we brought about by disobedience.

If we pay close attention to the details of the story, we see that in the midst of the anger of Calvary, Mary is a refuge of peace and of trust. In the midst of all the yelling and noise and hatred of Good Friday, Mary is an island of peace. She kept her eyes focused on Jesus, not letting herself get distracted by the anger of the world. So I want to focus on Mary with you briefly as a way to find peace in the midst of the anger of Good Friday, and through Mary, focus on Jesus.

The last words we have recorded from Mary are at the wedding feast at Cana, where she told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." From then on, Mary is present but silent in the Gospels. But that command, "Do whatever he tells you," serves as a perfect summary of Mary's life and a perfect summary of her instructions to us. Our job as Christians is to follow Mary and "do whatever he tells you."

Mary's silence is the ultimate form of respect and adoration in the face of so great a mystery. No words do justice to the mystery of the Cross.  In the middle of all the anger of Calvary, Mary's silence is unique. So when Jesus gives Mary to John here, John represents two things. John was ordained a priest the previous evening at the Last Supper, and so John represents all priests. So just as the priest is ordained into the priesthood of Jesus, so the mother of Jesus becomes the special mother of all of Jesus's priests.

But John also represents all Christians through all time, and he stood in our place on Calvary. So when Jesus gives Mary to John and John to Mary, he entrusts Mary to each one of us, and perhaps more importantly, he entrusts all of us to his beloved mother. So amidst all of the suffering and trials of this life, we turn to Mary, because that's the instruction Jesus gave us from the Cross. From the home at Nazareth, to the Cross at Calvary, to our parish in Ranchester, Mary leads us to Christ. Today, Mary teaches the necessity of silence in the face of the mystery of the Cross.

Mary, Help of Christians, Pray for Us.

No comments:

Post a Comment