As we gather on this sacred day, we contemplate the sorrowful and tragic scene
on the hill of Calvary.
Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, has been delivered into the hands
of hateful, violent, lawless men.
They have ridiculed Him by dressing Him in a crown made from thorns
a purple cloak and a scepter made from a reed
and then blindfolding Him and demanding He display His alleged divinity
by prophesying who struck Him.
They treated our Lord with the worst kind of cruel violence:
beating Him to the point his face is no longer recognizable
lashing Him and tearing off His skin with whips of cords
with sharp pieces of bone and metal fastened to the end
kicking Him and making His sacred body a mass of blood and bruises.
The body of Jesus is like a rag doll, tossed about as a sport for the soldiers
and so exhausted and limp He can barely move another step.
Finally, the miserable cohort arrives at the place of the skull
and Jesus is fastened with nails to the Cross and left hanging to die in agony.
The great High Priest mounts the gibbet of the Cross
to make of it by His sacrifice the supreme Altar
and to present Himself as the spotless Victim,
whose death brings new life to all humanity!
Thus He embraces His Cross with tenderness,
knowing its pain will be our deliverance.
This instrument of torture and death becomes the instrument of our salvation.
For those three long hours, while He writhes and whimpers in pain
and is further mocked by the soldiers who await His last breath
so they can complete their duty and be on their way…
Jesus is utterly alone.
When circumstances turned against them and fear of arrest came over them,
the Apostles ran away from the garden.
The crowds who days before has celebrated Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city
with cries of “Hosanna!”
now have been cajoled into turning against Him
and demanded His crucifixion.
Mary, His sorrowful Mother, and John, His closest disciple and friend
stand unwavering in their devotion at the foot of the Cross
but His happiness at seeing them is tempered.
He longs for an embrace, a touch, the warmth of another’s love
but His hands are fastened and He cannot reach out to them.
In His humanity, He even questions the providence of the Father:
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
The words of the prophetic psalms become the agonizing thoughts of the Lord:
Insult has broken my heart and I empty
I looked for consolers but there were none
I searched for comfort but there was none to be found
They put gall in my food and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink
Look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me
There is no escape for me; there is no one who cares for my life.
Consider the stark emptiness and desolate yearning of the Lord Jesus.
He is regarded as a worm and no man.
He is hated and despised by the people He came to save.
By all accounts of the world, His life is a failure and is about to end in darkness.
And yet, it was for this agony that He was born
and in this suffering that His true glory is revealed.
For THIS…Christ came into the world!
Call to mind your own experiences of being alone.
The times when you did your best and worked hard and your efforts were ignored.
The times when people misunderstood and rejected you.
The times when insult has broken your heart.
The times when your closest friends have betrayed you.
The times when it seemed like enemies were trying to undermine you,
putting vinegar in your drink…souring your joy.
The times when you were mocked and ridiculed for just being yourself.
The times when you were surrounded by people
and it still felt that no one cares for you.
The times when there was no means of escape from the oppression of life
and no comfort could be found.
You were utterly alone.
There was no one who cared for your life.
We have all been there.
We have all been there.
In the moments of your loneliness,
you were united to Christ in His suffering, from Gethsemane to Calvary.
The loneliness of Jesus confirms our faith in His eternal love –
He is the High Priest knows our weaknesses and endured them without sin.
He is close to us in our needs is our supreme comfort.
His love will never abandon us even in our most painful emptiness.
There is no better place to be than close to Jesus and united to His life.
Just as His emptiness was our salvation,
so our emptiness is an encounter with Christ’s suffering
that leads us from darkness into life
as we feel the loving embrace of Jesus.
Feel the weight of Jesus’ loneliness as you walk this way of the Cross tonight.
Then feel the relief of His loving embrace in your own emptiness
as you walk the journey of your life arm in arm with the Lord.
See…how He loves you!