Sixth Friday/Good Friday
There are moments in life that give us total clarity. Usually they center around a crisis. They happen in emergency rooms, in courtrooms, in funeral homes, on a hill called Golgotha. We experience them when we’ve come to the end of all we can humanly do and in an instant we see what really matters. Our prayers take on a sense of urgency and we cry out to God for his help. Yet people all around us may be rolling dice and making jokes. What is wrong with them? Don’t they see life hangs in the balance?
And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Matthew 27:33-44
While many at the crucifixion mocked Jesus for giving up his life, Luke’s gospel says that one of the robbers had a moment of clarity and declared that Jesus had no business dying a criminal’s death beside him. He trusted Jesus as the son of God, and asked to be remembered when he came into his kingdom. He owned his life and saw his need to be saved from himself, even at the last hour. We too need the humility of self-knowledge, or our vision becomes distorted by our self-righteousness. The more we see our frailty and the false props we hide behind, the deeper we sense our very real need for God. We see our self defenses as worthless in the light of eternity, but the truth will set us free. God wants us to know we can let go and rest in his love for us.
Since we don’t see clearly our own hearts, pray simply today. Ask God to show you one area that you haven’t yet seen through his eyes. As you wait, ask him to reveal anything you’re clinging to instead of him. What would he have you receive? Where are you in this story? “By this time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the thick veil hanging in the Temple was torn apart. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. And with these words, he breathed his last.”
Today’s prayer practice: In his hands
Find a quiet space and read today’s scriptures again, listening for God to speak. Sit with open hands and imagine your life, held by God. Reflect on what you hold dear that may keep you from accepting God’s gift of love to you. What might you need to commit into his hands? “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16. Pray with Henri Nouwen:
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me. Amen.”