He did this for us. A Good Friday Homily

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There are many dramatic moments here and it’s worth taking the time to fully consider them.

They are worth seeing, hearing, experiencing as best we possibly can in order to truly understand his suffering, his sacrifice.  He did this for us.

At different times in the past, I have focused my own reflection and prayer on one single instance, a fragment of the story, a scene.  Jesus in the garden before he was approached by Judas and the guards, Peter in the courtyard denying he knew the man, the nailing of flesh onto beam, the conversation of the two beside Jesus on the cross, the followers at the foot of the cross looking up onto their friend… dying.

Each scene a separate gospel and each one worthy of its own homily.  Each fragment of this story… with so much to tell.

This year, my reflection is on the silence… the waiting… the darkness.

We hear that Jesus was confronted in the garden with men carrying lanterns and torches… indicating it was night.  Later on we hear that they brought Jesus from Caiaphas’ home to the praetorium where he was to face Pilate.  And also that it was morning.  A subtle detail perhaps but it does beg the question… what happened between the night and the next morning?

Visitors to the Holy Land are brought to a place referred to as Caiaphas’ pit, which is where Jesus was believed to have spent the last night of his life.  It is a dark place without windows or doors.  Visitors there are told that prisoners were left in that pit, lowered in and out of the pitch black by rope, to spend the night before their trials.  Most who were sent there were condemned to death by crucifixion.

What was that night like for Jesus?

And if there was ever anyone who ever sat in that pit and who did not have to be there, it was the Son of God.  He did not have to.  Yet he did.

He did this for us.

In a quiet moment… before Easter morning comes, spend some time with Jesus in there, prayerfully.  Sit next to him when he is awaiting his trial.  Inside of that dark, inside of that cold and lonely, inside of that place.  Spend some time there.

But here’s the thing…

In the past, whenever I have contemplated a specific scene from the Passion in prayer, it always ends up being me encountering Jesus and asking him for what I want, announcing my intentions, declaring my desires.  I bring my problems, my sorrows, my needs and I lay them all at his feet.

This year, as I have sat with Jesus during his night of waiting, as I have thought about being inside that dark hole, I had the instinct to ask what he might need.  I asked what I could possibly do to help him.

There is a blog called BeautyBeyondBones.  It’s modern, hip, savvy, very millennial… and not at all like the sort of thing that somebody like me would typically follow.  But it’s about a brave young woman’s recovery and healing and the manner in which she is finding her way.  I find it compelling.  Recently, she talked about (here) why she has decided to be more open and public about her faith.  She writes: “Jesus defended me.  Now it’s my turn to defend Jesus.”

I love that.  How simple, how clear, how bold.  Jesus defended me.  Now it’s my turn to defend Jesus.

Does he need us to defend him?  The last time that he encountered them in person, he asked Peter and his disciples to help him… and then he asked them to pass that request on down to all of us.

What was that night like for Jesus?

In the pit. Waiting.

Spend some time with him in that darkness.

Be with him.

Console him.

And as you approach the cross tonight…

Ask.

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