Today is the day when despair and hope meet to decide the fate of humanity. Today we are invited to make a choice and take a stand to stay with or to move away from Jesus. The usual homilies have less to clarify since the way of the Cross is enough. I pick seven words that may provoke us to retrace where our hope has disappeared so that we may return on the right truck.
The First Word: Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do! In these words we were all included; the indifferent, those who slapped his face, the Chief Priests hidden by the cruel Centurion’s chariot, the fearful apostles and crowds. But in the distance there is an incredible ultimate grace. We all hung the innocent instead of discerning out the Judas Iscariot who is forever our companion.
The Second Word: This day you shall be with me in paradise! This is the reward for penance and reconciliation. This fellow was a common thief who knew how to go about his business well. Those who arrested him took him to be good for nothing, useless crook who on several occasions had proved dangerous. This thief was fortunately honest in his trade. He knew that he deserved his fate. After crucifixion suffering excruciating pain, yet deserving his fate he accepted the punishment. He could not dismiss the opportunity he had encountered. On his side without his will was a Messiah, the King of the Jews, like the devils in the synagogues he had identified that next to him was Jesus Christ the saviour of the world. He was also suffering excruciating pain, but he was innocent. When this terrible thief recognized Jesus he realized the most important step in life that it is never too late to confess the Lord. The thief hears the innocent mocked by his fellow thief. In one last chance for charity, he calls: Have you no fear of God? This is a living faith which alone can assure us eternal life.
The third word: Woman, Behold your son! Behold your mother. This scenario can be compared to a parent, who is all night long in the hospital. She holds her child’s hand, the doctors say it looks grim and she recognizes such words. We will do whatever we can. He feels her warmth, her presence. Her love makes the pain go away. Her sorrow is not important now. All that matters is making it to the day. This is what we all get from the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is forever present. Mary gives us her presence as she did for Jesus on the Cross and to John and all of us. With Mary, our suffering is no loss. Through Mary the one on the throne calls each one of us by name. In Mary we all have a universal mother who assists us to embrace our crosses daily. In Mary we are brothers and sisters.
The fourth word: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? This voice is our cry of victory because all can be endured when there is warmth within. The sacrifice is little when what is to be achieved is great. When abandonment is total, the soul calls out in pain and our voice is heard near and far. Every day, Jesus helps us to ask right questions. We are the question and God is the answer.
The fifth word: I thirst. Water is the source of life. When one stops feeling thirsty, then something is fundamentally wrong. Today, we need to discover the Samaritan woman within us so that we can go out to search for water. We seem to be still quite and deserved yet today is the day to hear the voice of a Jew asking us for water from a well preserved. We need to be assisted to break our secrets bare. It is not Jesus who is thirsty; it is me and you who are thirsty for Jesus. It is not Jesus who wants the drink because he is already the original drink for the life of the world. Jesus wants us to see the life that we are living. With our life style we are slowly but surely destroying ourselves because outside Jesus there is no life. Today, like the Samaritan woman we need to believe his words that changed her ways and open ourselves to a new life that Jesus who has the true water is offering forever. From a people in strife we can become a people that are alive. Today the Lord calls out from the crucified throne; he wants water from our wells which are our hearts. We shall remain restless until we rest in Jesus.
The sixth word: Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit! It was his hands that created the world and separated the waters from the land. It was his hands that fashioned humans and gave them the capacity to love. It was his hands that delivered the people and sent the evil into the sea. It was his hands that carved the law and gave the path to his own through Moses. It was into his hands that Jesus completed his work into the work of the Father for our sake. Outside his hands, we are lost forever. Only in God’s hand are we safe and secure.
The seventh word: It is finished. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He is the beginning and the end. The plan of salvation starts and completes in him. We need to ask is in our life sin is Finished? We need to collaborate in the completion of this precious plan. We need to encounter the saviour. We have to be a people of Yes. Though beaten we are not broken. Seemingly conquered but not yet surrendered. In Jesus our mission is accomplished! With Jesus we are triumphant!