George R. Morgan, O.S.A.Good Friday (2007)
George R. Morgan, O.S.A.

Is 52:13—53:12
Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Jn 18:1—19:42

“My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me ?”

We just heard those words - in the mouth of Jesus - dying from crucifixion.

It is the human feeling of total emptiness – when it feels like there is nothing left of the person that was. It is a moment that could easily slip into despair. “Remember, you are dust and unto dust you will return.”

Yet, Jesus’ words cried out from the cross are known to every Jewish child who has gone to Synagogue School as Jesus surely did. They are the beginning of Psalm 22, a popular and well used prayer during Jesus’ time on earth. The devout Jews who heard him knew what he was saying, as now do we. The psalm prayer goes on to describe for God multiple human ills and yet resolves into the assurity of the one praying that God has always responded to His people.

The Psalm goes on to say: “When I cried out, God listened and did not turn away.”

And hence, we discover the gift in what we observe, reflect on and celebrate today: the surety of being “birthed” into new life. Our being birthed into humanness is a process that begins with conception and ends not at the moment of being born into this world, but rather is completed at the moment of death. Becoming fully human is a life-long journey of growing into a relationship with God. It requires the personal discovery that in the emptying of ourselves for the sake of others, we are filled in order to empty ourselves again and again in compassion and mercy and caring and being forgiving. In such manner is our birthing into this life continued into the moment of the final emptying of ourselves, all for God. Jesus, in giving himself completely up for us, was giving himself completely up to God. Jesus let himself be emptied of all human dignity and human spirit to let us know that God did not create us to be birthed solely into life in this world, but rather into eternal life.

Harshly and brutally the point is brought home to us. Life in this world is not our reason for being. Life in this world is our birthing into eternal life. The “way of the cross” was not about Jesus’ falling, it was about Jesus’ getting up. We are invited over and over again, especially today, to get up when we fall or are knocked down – to leave behind the world’s empty promises of wealth and power and worldly dignity. Jesus’ cross did not go away; the key to his journey was in the getting up – to achieve his birth into new and eternal life. We recall: “In the end there is Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love.”