Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Death is truly a frightening experience because it goes against our desire to survive and live. Even Jesus was not spared of this. As he went to the garden, he said that his soul was sorrowful even unto death. The Lord was not spared of the isolation which death brings to every man. At the garden, he alone agonized while his disciples, unable to resist fatigue, slept. The Lord was abandoned by his disciples, denied by Peter and was surrounded by enemies who mocked him and challenged him to come down from the Cross and save himself. St. Mark said that even the criminals who were crucified with Jesus derided the Lord. But the height of Christ’s isolation was when from the Cross he cried: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Taking upon himself the sins of the world, Jesus endured and suffered the consequence of sin: isolation from God. Jesus died alone – like a grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies alone.
And yet, in that isolation of death, as he falls to the earth and dies, he begins to bring forth fruit. The first fruit would be that centurion who saw how Jesus breathed his last. What he saw elicited from him an act of faith: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” This centurion encountered Jesus. He stood facing Jesus. He saw how Jesus breathed his last. What he saw was an invitation to him. He responded to this invitation. He acknowledged that Jesus is the Son of God.
The seed that falls to the ground bears much fruit. After the centurion, there were the women who followed Jesus from Galilee: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses and Salome. After them came Joseph of Arimathea who was awaiting the kingdom of God. They came forth as the fruits of that seed that fell to the ground alone. Remember last Sunday’s Gospel? Some Greeks came asking: “We would like to see Jesus.” This coming of the gentiles made Jesus say: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
Indeed, the hour has come. Though he died isolated, he draws all people to himself by being lifted up on the Cross. Like the centurion, the Magdalene, the mother of James and Joses and Salome, Joseph of Arimathea, we are drawn to the Redeemer who from the Cross, calls all people to himself. We now stand facing him. We now see how he breathed his last. Let the centurion’s words be our own: “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Savior of the world! Come let us worship!
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!