... When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished." Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit....
And God held in his hand a small globe.
Look, he said.
The son looked.
Far off, as through water, he saw a scorched land of fierce color.
The light burned there.. crusted buildings cast their shadows
a bright serpent, a river uncoiled itself.. radiant with slime.
On a bare hill a bare tree saddened the sky.
Many people held out their thin arms to it,
as though waiting for a vanished April to return to its crossed boughs.
The son watched them.
Let me go there, he said.
That is the poem “The Coming” by R.S. Thomas … it speaks of Jesus’ willingness to come to this world in order to save the people of God… and it expresses a love that goes beyond our ability to understand…
It also sets the stage of where we are today…
You see.. it takes a great deal of courage to truly remember the events that took place on that hill outside
yes.. I can recount to you the details of the crucifixion.. the process of
nailing Jesus to the cross and all that… the blood.. the agony.. the cruelty of
the crowd that gathered to watch… Jerusalem
But today.. I would like for you to set all that visual imagery aside.. and focus on the sounds… there would be the voices of all those around… the guards… people moving around.. some weeping… there would be the groans of those crucified alongside Jesus.. all that.. but I want you to block all that out… The only thing I want you to hear is the heavy labored breathing of Jesus as he hangs upon his cross… … finally he speaks… “it is finished.”… and then… there is silence.
Now… keeping that mind.. although it is painful… we must remember that it was.. the sins of the world.. our sins.. that put Jesus on the cross in the first place… we are the ones responsible for his crucifixion…
So.. I want you to imagine… that when Jesus breathes his last.. and that great silence falls.. you suddenly hear a voice.. and even though there are many gathered around you… you know that voice is speaking to you .. and it is the voice of God…
In that moment.. and in that silence.. knowing that you are responsible for the death of Jesus… what would you imagine the voice of God saying.. to you?
I think that it would be easy to hear anger in that voice… “Look what you have done!”… “What have you got to say for yourself?”… “I’m so disappointed in you.”..
I believe that it would be easier to hear sadness… the horrible screams of a parent who has lost a child… “My son.. my son.”
And finally… I can imagine words of rejection… “get out of my sight”… “I never want to see you again.”
I can imagine these responses.. because they are very human responses… they are the words that come from our mouths in times of great anger and sadness… but… the voice of God that speaks in the silence of your heart after the death of his one and only son never even thinks.. much less says.. anything of this nature
Instead… I believe God the Father would speak words of comfort… “Everything is going to be OK now.”… “This had to happen.. just as I planned.”… “don’t be afraid.”… “remember what my son said… In three days this temple will be raised.”
There would also be words of love and acceptance… “this act of obedience by my son has bridged the gap between you and I.” … “my love for you extends beyond eternity.”… “we will be together forever… I will be your God and you will be my child”
In truth.. Scripture records no such words from God at that moment when silence fell… but no words needed to be spoken.. for the cross and the lifeless body of Jesus said it all
Here in just a few minutes… As we approach the veneration of the cross.. allow yourself to hear the voice of God speaking to you… understand that it is not brought before you as a means of beating you into submission or of making you feel guilty… it is brought in.. it is venerated and adored.. because it is God’s way of speaking and showing his love for you… it is the means by which joy came into the world…. For as the closing words of the reproaches declare… “We venerate Thy Cross, O Lord: and praise and glorify Thy holy Resurrection: for by virtue of the Cross joy has come to the whole world.”