April 10, 2020 – Good Friday, the Passion of the Lord
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041020.cfm)
How would you feel when you are left alone to suffer? Could you imagine yourself, hanging on to your life, to every gasping of air?
I could imagine it when my papa was dying last year. I was not there when he died for I was assigned then in Iloilo at that time. But, I could hear how papa gasped for air until he departed. It was agonizing.I felt helpless as a son, listening from the phone knowing that my father was dying. It must have been excruciating for papa even as he struggled for his last breath on earth.
Same experience of pain and loss must have been felt too by those who have lost their loved ones and witnessed personally their passing. These days, we have been told also how the patients of covid-19 would struggle to breath as the virus attacks the respiratory system of the human body.
Jesus who died on the cross must have felt more pain and struggle. There were no doctors and nurses around him to help him ease the pain for gasping for air. There was no medical help given to him by the people around him. An innocent man was left hanging on the cross to die with his lungs restrained together and his weight pulling him down. However, the nails that have pierced his hands stuck him to the wood of the cross.
As he was dragged to be flogged, carried his cross and crucified, many people around him just looked at him. Many have shouted condemnation against him as if they were righteous and he was the sinner. Many others too remained indifferent to his cries, indifferent to his pain.
Moreover, his friend betrayed him and sold him, another friend denied him three times and the rest of his friends run away and hid themselves, except for the youngest of them and few women. With all of these, Jesus endured everything. We did not hear him curse and even expressed dismay over those people who left him alone and those people around him who remained indifferent to his cries.
However, what we have heard from him while on the cross that I find powerful was when Jesus said, “I thirst.”
Physically, Jesus longed for something to drink, to quench his dry throat and lips. The loss of blood, the tensions in his bones and muscles and exposure to heat on that day generated loss of water in his body. The soldiers beneath the cross gave him a common wine to ease his suffering.
This tells us how Jesus endured the suffering physically. The Lord has suffered and that statement, I thirst, conveys to us how the weight of human sin caused agony to Jesus.
But more than what was physical, this short statement of Jesus, I thirst, also tells us of God’s desire for us. Jesus thirsts for our presence with him, for our friendship. Imagine, how could he not be thirsty when people who are close to him run away and hid themselves? How could he not be thirsty when bystanders just looked at his pain and suffering? How could Jesus not be thirsty when many of those who gathered around him felt indifferent towards the suffering of God?
As Jesus was publicly condemned by the crowd who merely believed in gossips and lacked the ability to be critical against their powerful leaders and wanted to kill him, Jesus thirsts.
As we remember solemnly today the passion and death of Jesus on that gruesome cross, may we also heed his call for us today. Let Jesus’ words reverberate into our hearts and move us to satiate the thirst of God.
As the (Enhanced) Community Quarantine has been imposed for the safety of all, let it be an opportunity for us as Christians to be more sensitive of Jesus’ thirsts. The thirst of Jesus is also present through those brothers and sisters who need special attention and assistance.
Let the words of Jesus, I thirst, be heard from a neighbor who seek your help, from a friend who need your comfort because of anxiety, from a family member who is sick, from a colleague who is worried of his/her family at home, from a poor-homeless person who is being blamed for not observing “home quarantine.”
As we respond to Jesus’ thirst, may we in return thirst for more of God’s presence. May that thirst bring us closer with one another and closer to the Lord. May that thirst for God too make us ever hopeful that suffering and death is not the end, but only the beginning of God’s ultimate sign of love and compassion. May our thirst for God bring us to experience as a community the gift of healing and restoration from sickness and pain, the grace of peace and reconciliation from sin and division, and the glory of resurrection that renews and transforms us. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR