The foundation of Christian discipleship rests on the Cross, which is also to say that it rests essentially on a paradox: that through death, we find life. On Good Friday, we are invited to meditate more deeply on this Mystery of the Cross. The Cross is an Exodus – a moving out from ourselves and the World – toward God and Neighbor. It is, fundamentally, a Becoming. As such, it always passes through Gethsemane, through a dark night of suffering and anguish. The World, like Satan, recognizes what is opposed to it, even if it doesn’t understand its enemy. Thus it fights tooth and claw to keep us from the passage.
St. Paul knew how subversive the Gospel of the Cross was to the World: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God . . . For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” (1 Cor. 18:25) Today, just as it was 2000 years ago, the Cross contradicts the culture and confounds the prideful. Now, as then, the World extols pleasure, avarice, domination and individual autonomy over all things. But the Way of the Cross calls us to crucify our Idols of worldly comfort and pleasure. It calls us to imitate Christ in complete, self-sacrificial love.
With Pilate’s words, Ecce Homo!, “Here is the Man!”, (gesturing towards the bleeding, mocked Christ, his flesh peeled and torn) we find our new ontological center – our very Being transformed in Christ. The Old Man is dead, the New Man, in Christ, is the Suffering Servant, the one who loves until he dies. That is what every Christian must become. One who loves unto death – a death that brings new life. On Good Friday, may we all pray with Jesus in the Garden, and look to our Heavenly Father for strength and hope, so that we may bear our crosses in joy and love. Stabat Mater dolorosa, Juxta crucem lacrymosa, Dum pendent Filius.