On this most solemn day of the Triduum the sun rises. The crowds gather around the courts and the elected officials. The rumors from the night before have reached the far corners of the city. All are anxious to see what will become of the Messiah; He who entered Jerusalem a few days ago to shouts of Hosanna and palm branches for a red carpet. The trials go as expected — false accusations, inaccurate reporting, ultimatums and ultimately a judgement for Crucifixion. Jesus is scourged, beaten, mocked with a crown of thorns and then loaded down with His cross to carry to the place of the skull — Golgotha.
The weight of it on the bruises and open wounds crushed His strength, but more so must have been the verbal abuse, spitting and mockery that followed Him along the way that crushed His most Sacred Heart. He arrived exhausted and I’m sure no time was wasted driving the steel nails through flesh and bone; then hoisted up in the air by mid-day. The hottest part of the day did He hang. Mouth dry. Blood and sweat drying. It was not until the sixth hour when darkness covered the land that he may have received a whisper of relief. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Those bystanders (especially those who took to mock Him) knew Jesus was drawing yet again and as always from Scripture, this time Psalm 22.
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help…All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer…Like water my life drains away; all my bones are disjointed…as dry as a potsherd is my throat…they have pierced my hand and feet…they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:2,8,15,16,19).
This may have caused many there to stop their jeering, realizing they were the evildoers described in the Psalm. And if they paused long enough they too would have realized despite the Psalm beginning with such sorrow and agony, it also points to the greatness of Our God,
“You who fear the Lord, give praise…For he has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out…those who seek the Lord will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!…All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord; All the families of nations will bow low before him…And I will live for the Lord; my descendants will serve you. The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought” (Psalm 22:24,25,27,31,32).
The echo of His cry resounds these verses. It reminded all those around the Cross and all of us today of the Glory that is to come in only a few short hours. The Good has come.
With that, Jesus bowed His head and gave up His Spirit. On Good Friday.