Friday, 25 March 2016

Good Friday

Readings: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 30, Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9, John 18:1-19:42 

In the face of death we all become mute. We have no words adequate to this reality that goes beyond our personal experience. On Good Friday more than ever we are in this difficulty: faced with the death of the Son of God, what is there to say? How can we speak when the Word itself is dead? 

But we have his words, from the cross, of which the Gospel of John records three, and from these words we can learn something about the meaning of this death, we can have an impression of how Jesus himself experienced and lived his death.

'Woman, behold your son.' 'Woman' is the title that Jesus gave to his mother in the second chapter of the Gospel of John, at the wedding at Cana. And there are many links between the miracle of the water turned into wine and the moment of Jesus' death on the cross. That was the first sign given by Jesus and his death on the cross is his last sign. At the wedding in Cana he revealed his glory to his disciples and on the cross he manifests his glory to the world. At Cana he said that his hour had not yet come. We know that hour of which he spoke is the time of his passion and death, the moment in which he is to pass from this world to the Father.

'I thirst.' This is the second word of Jesus from the cross. The miracle at Cana already invites us to think about the deeper thirst, not just that for water or for wine, but the thirst for truth, for love, for justice, perhaps even our thirst for God. Jesus often spoke about a water that he has come to give to us: 'whoever drinks the water I shall give him shall never thirst,' he said to the Samaritan woman. After teaching in the temple he said, 'whoever is thirsty let him come to me and drink ... he who believes in me ... streams of living water will flow from within him.' This he said, John explains, referring to the Spirit. Now, from the cross, Jesus himself says, 'I thirst.' It is the thirst of a dying man, of course, but also the thirst of the Incarnate Word, the thirst of the Eternal Son, his desire for the love of the Father, and so that those whom he loves might participate in that love, in the communion of divine love. When the soldier pierced his side, immediately there came out blood and water. In the moment in which Jesus gives his life, all his power, all his love, his thirst creates a spring of spiritual and supernatural life which is the life of the Church.

'It is finished.' This is the last word of Jesus according to the Gospel of John. Everything is done. The time is fulfilled. The work is done. He remained faithful to the will of the Father, showing the world the glory of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. 'Bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.' It is the moment of his death. He has entered into the darkness of death. The world is once again formless and empty, darkness covers the abyss. But the Spirit given by Jesus hovers over the waters.

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