March 30, 2018
by Candice Tucci, O.S.F.
Creighton University's College of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion
Lectionary: 40

Isaiah 52:13—53:12
Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1—19:42
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Preparing for the Good Friday Service

“They will look upon him whom they have pierced…”

Pieta Detail Today we read, hear and pray the Passion of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. This day, we walk the road to Calvary with Jesus to his death. Death on a cross.  While we listen to the scripture accounts, we might consider the injustices of his death, historical religious and political circumstances. Does this bring you closer to Jesus in His Passion? Does that affect anything within or without you? I believe what will draw us nearer to Jesus with greater impact is to take the time to really look upon him who is at one and the same time our Neighbor and our God, our Brother and our Lord, our King and our Friend, Word incarnate and uncreated Word, our Maker and our Re-maker, 'the Alpha and the Omega. -- Ewert H. Cousins, Bonaventure and the Coincidence of Opposites

Consider this by gazing upon Christ, look upon him who was pierced and contemplate the transformative power of the cross in the death of Jesus. Where does it take us?

Saint Clare of Assisi in her Second and Third Letters to Agnes of Prague wrote: Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!... transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead itself through contemplation!... gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him. If you suffer with Him, you shall reign with Him, if you weep with Him, you shall rejoice with Him; if you die with Him on the cross of tribulation, your name shall be called glorious among humankind.

To gaze upon the crucified Jesus, or the dead Jesus in the picture detail of the Pieta by Michelangelo, is to look upon him as if you were gazing in a mirror. Something is catalyzed out of that self-emptying which is pure divine substance mirrored in our own true face. -- Bourgeault

Does this mirror image take us deeper into our lives and experiences where we felt we were dead, or at the foot of the cross, and wept? Does it take us even deeper to recognize our own sinfulness, brokenness and imperfections that need forgiveness or transformation? Does it tell me how much I am loved and embraced by God? Does it take me to an image of a wounded world in need of healing, peace and wholeness? We may discover our own behaviors that could have contributed to such realities while at the same time we suffer from our own infirmities. As Sebastian Moore wrote, THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST IS NO STRANGER! We are both crucifier and crucified.  

While reflecting on the Passion today, it took me back to a day in the African bush country of Tanzania. One day, word was out we had a car. A man from a near-by village came and asked assistance to take a relative to the hospital. I drove to the main road where the family was waiting. We arrived only to discover the grief being expressed at the death of this family member. He was already bound in a burial cloth, and then they asked me to transport him back to their village for burial. It was a profound experience of carrying and burying the dead Jesus.  They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths…took him to a tomb in a nearby garden—Gospel of John. Gazing upon the dead Christ brought me back to this encounter. Gazing on the image of the dead Jesus on Mary’s lap, also led me back to how I felt upon my return from Africa. She was holding ME as I felt empty, and dead. Our acts of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, self-emptying love not only transform our behavior, but our very being, and so too, the world. –Nancy Sylvester

The Pieta is incredible BEAUTY. Yet, tells the story of the horror of the cross. A coincidence of opposites. Gaze upon him…

O Beauty ever ancient,
O Beauty ever new,
You the mirror of my life renewed
Let me find my life in you.

This refrain from the song, O Beauty Ever Ancient, [based on The Confessions of St Augustine] written by Roc O’Connor, SJ, is a prayerful contemplative mantra. The whole song is here for you in the link here.

Humanity needs constant forgiveness and redemption. The power of the cross is LOVE and holds the promise of LIFE in Christ. While Jesus is placed in the tomb, nothing could contain the immense amount of love within him, Jesus who is Love incarnate, God, the Christ. No stone could bar the way for LOVE and LIFE from triumphing. It was a love so powerful it blew out the stone at the entrance of the tomb! Jesus’ self-emptying on the Cross filled all of creation with renewed life, wholeness, greater freedom, and a promise of life everlasting.

Today, we are invited to look into the mirror of the cross…the dead Jesus. We gaze upon Christ… contemplate Christ… look upon him whom [WE] have pierced…wrap him and lay him in his tomb”.  LOVE WILL TRIUMPH!

Let us pray…

Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted,
all you who hope in the LORD. —
Psalm 31

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