During the summer of 2005, my time was spent working at hospitals as part of a seminary requirement that we get some experience working in a hospital visiting with the sick.
Hospitals and our own mortality are not things I like to think much about, and I suspect I’m not alone. Our own mortality sneaks up on us when we least expect it, and then, there’s the truth of our dark sides those sinful things we do that we also don’t like to think about. The truth can be very unpleasant indeed.
Pilate was the man before whom Jesus was brought in the Passion story, and he asks Jesus, “What is truth?” He didn’t know Truth was standing right in front of him.
The truth is that we need a savior, and God is there with us. That is the truth realized when a Christian looks to the cross.
The cross, much like the hospital, is also something we don’t think much about. But, what if the cross was never there in the first place? What if Jesus had never gone through Good Friday? What if He had called upon the 12 legions of angels that He knew the Father would have provided and then, everyone would have known what the centurion knew that truly, this was the Son of God?
If that were the case, we would never fully understand the depth of God’s love. What the cross should mean for us all is how deeply we are loved by God.
As a Christian, I believe God comes to us, not with 12 legions of angels at His side, but as the Suffering Servant, as the one whom the author of Hebrews reminds us is the one who is capable of feeling the deepest weaknesses we have, and who has been tempted as we have been tempted. Our king dies for us on a throne of wood, “I love you” written in the red of His blood.
I find the Good Friday liturgy to be among the most powerful of the year. In the Catholic church, it features a cross being slowly brought up to the front of the sanctuary in a procession, and my hope is, each year when this happens, it reveals to us its true meaning: that the cross shows both the evil and the dark side of humanity, but also just how far God will go in reaching out to us with His love.
Yes, life can be painful, and at times, God can seem far away. Sometimes we can even push Him far away, through our decisions. But this God is never really far away. He is with us in suffering, in weakness, and loneliness. He knows our hurt because in his humanity, he suffered, too.
We are beloved children of God and as children, we are dependent, needy, and can’t do it alone. It is not an option. In our pain, God does not abandon us but instead, reaches to grasp our hand and says, “I want to be your king.”
This Good Friday, my prayer is that we realize our need for a savior and also how much God loves us. It is my hope that no matter where we are at in life, those who profess faith in Christ may strive to see past the pain, and see ourselves with the eyes of Christ gazing to us from above with compassion and love.
Today, in a world where we are driven by instant results, the tragedy is while we are more connected than ever, it seems we can be more isolated than ever. Humans still ask the age-old questions Who am I? Where am I going? What is my purpose in life?
The truth is, Eden cannot be found here on earth. It’s not to say we can’t enjoy our time here; but ultimately, we need to strive to live each day growing in a relationship with God, and sharing the love that He gives us by coming to know Him at a deeper level, and loving others as He has loved us.
From a quiet hospital room when we breathe our last, to a maternity ward where we breathe our first breaths of life, God is at our side, and what an awesome and amazing God He is.