Sunday, May 12, 2019

Good Friday: The Costly Price of Justice and Mercy

April 19, 2019

JESUS, I trust in you!

Lent began with Jesus engaging in a fight with the devil as he fasted in the desert. The devil tried to dissuade him from fulfilling the Father’s will by seducing him with more convenient ways of acquiring glory and power. All Jesus had to do was to relinquish his divinity and kneel before the devil and the kingdoms of the earth will easily be given to him. But Jesus did not fall for this seduction because he knew himself and he knew who the devil was. He knows fully well that he is the Son of God sent by the Father to destroy the works of the devil his adversary.

He engaged in this spiritual battle and it was a very fierce one. In this battle, the Lord revealed to us the real ugly and deadly face of sin. Using the example of the Galileans executed by Pilate and the 18 people to perished at the collapse of the tower of Siloah, the Lord Jesus gave us a stern warning about the effects of sin: “If you do not repent, you will perish as they did.” Adam and Eve did not know better. They were easily deceived by the devil and so when they disobeyed, sin entered the world and together with sin entered death.

But in this battle, the Lord did not only warn us of the deadly effect of sin. In order to redeem us, he literally jumped into the devil’s lair. Today, the Lord allowed death to touch him. He, the sinless One, endured the wage of sin which is death. He did not sin. There was nothing in him to merit death. And yet, today, he died. He died for sins he did not commit. He died for sins which we committed. He died for the sins of the world.

It is easy to say that Jesus died in atonement for our sins. But it is only when we really meditate on his Passion…when we look at the sufferings he endured, it is only then that we will tremble at what we have done to him. That Negro spiritual song says it very well: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh, sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” We look up to Jesus hanging on the Cross and we ask him: “Lord, who did this to you?” And when we look down, we see the hammer in our hands. And so, with hearts filled with remorse, we should rather say: “Were you there when I crucified my Lord?”

We rightly deserved to die in the very same way that the adulterous woman deserved to perish. We are guilty as charged. And yet, the Lord declares to us: “I do not judge you.” He does not point an accusing finger at us. Instead, willingly he opened his arms on the wood of the Cross to endure for us a death which is cruel and excruciatingly painful. Jesus bled to death. The medical term is “traumatic hemorrhagic shock.” We should have been on that Cross but he took it upon himself for us. He went to the very depth of death because what he did not assume, he did not redeem.

And so, after that long and difficult battle, Jesus declares his cry of victory: It is finished! Refusing the devil’s shortcut, Jesus fulfilled the Father’s will through that long and difficult suffering. He loved his own and now, he loved until the very end. It was a declaration of accomplishment. Jesus declares that he has completed the task. He did not leave any stone unturned. His humiliation undid the arrogance of Satan. His unconditional obedience atoned for the disobedience of Adam and Eve and all of us, their sons and daughters. Justice is satisfied. Now we can avail mercy and forgiveness.

And so, let us value the mercy that we receive. Never should we take for granted the forgiveness bestowed on us. Keep in mind that mercy is not cheap. Someone paid dearly for it to be given to us. After a few days of penance, many of us will surely be tempted to return to their former ways of life. Don’t! Resist the temptation! Do not treat forgiveness lightly. Remember the Lord’s suffering. Remember his sacrifice. Jesus paid dearly for it. “Remember that you were not bought at the measly sum of silver or gold, but at the price of the blood of Christ, the blood of a spotless and unblemished lamb.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

1 comment: