How can this day be Good?
April 14, 2017
St. John’s Cathedral
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The darkness thickens.
The fully human Jesus dies,
and at this point it is very hard to remember the fully divine Jesus.
We have gone from a praising, adoring crowd filled with Hosannas
to a mocking, betraying, condemning crowd…
“and there is no health in us.”
The soldiers are so sure he is dead that they do not break his legs, which was customary to do.
Instead they pierce his side…and blood and water come out,
the final remnants of the divinity of his ministry –
symbols of the Lord’s Supper and baptism…
Scripture is fulfilled and Jesus is dead.
We often make light of the humanity of Jesus…
“fully human and fully divine” rolls so smoothly off our tongues and divine is the last word we hear and remember.
I find it very hard to believe that Jesus was as human as I am…
that cannot possibly be true.
But wise people tell me it is so
…and they say if we override his humanity, we miss the essence of his life.
We must recognize that Jesus
“shares, suffers, and trusts God exactly as you and I must learn to do. He walked in darkness too,”
as Richard Rohr says.
As I allow my humanity to be one with Jesus,
as I walk the path with him especially on this egregious day,
I suffocate from the pain and torture.
Not only do I take on the role of the one piercing,
but I also suffer from being pierced.
Not only have I hammered the nails, but I feel them.
My hands begin to hurt,
I cannot control the tears…
O, the tears flow like the rains of the greatest of storms.
I am reminded of an image from God’s Great Creation
one which helps me to understand why we can possibly call this day Good.
I live in a very wooded place, with huge old oak trees, scrub pines, and vast beds of ferns.
The oak trees are beginning to fall and on days like today they actually look dead. But as you all probably know, many of them are covered with what we call Resurrection Fern.
This plant can lose up to 97% of its water and not die, as you also probably know. At its driest, it looks like a grayish brown clump of leaves and often we are sure that a tree is about to fall when we see it in our yard.
But one good rain is all it takes to bring the green back, to resurrect it and bring it back to life.
Resurrection fern is also epiphytic which means it can only grow on top of other plants, but it does not steal nutrients or water from the host plant.
So the metaphor is pretty obvious to you I am sure…Once was dead now is alive, rooted on the great trunk of creation which rises mightily from the earth.
Perhaps the rain is to Resurrection Fern as our tears are to the Resurrected Christ.
Jesus needs our hearts,
he needs our tears,
he needs our love.
He is alone,
We must be shocked and tortured by the barbarism of his conditions, we must feel his pain, humiliation, degradation.
We must feel death, the death of all that has separated us from him, whatever has kept us from “being one in him and he in us.”
And only then, only when we too “hang on the cross,” can we possibly come back to life in a resurrected way and say Alleluia once again.