Today we remember an embarrassment of humanity: we killed Jesus Christ the Son of God.
We are connected to this death. In our sin and waywardness, we had a hand in Christ’s execution.
Yet, we are also part of God’s plan. In his benevolence he made this act of human depravity into part of his wonderful plan.
What’s more, just as the shadow and shame of the cross reaches down the generations and touches us personally, so does the light of the Resurrection shine into our hearts.
“Today”, said Christ to the good thief, “you will be with me in paradise.” Even in that most painful moment of his life, covered in bruises and cuts and sweat and blood, Jesus found a way to love the people whom we find challenging: a convicted thief. Whilst we, from the ease of our comfortable lives, cast judgement on people, Christ continued to show the way by loving when love seemed impossible.
This is the heart of our human depravity: that we do not love. Or, to put it more distinctly: that we choose to not love. We turn away. And the long, cross-shaped shadow of this lack of love reaches down the generations, reminding us not only of the depravity of humanity but of the great love and mercy of our God.
Does it ever worry you that you do not love Jesus as much as you should? Whenever you do, try not to worry. Instead, turn it around and remember how much he loves you. More than that, though: he is IN love with you. He loves us so much that he looked for ways of excusing us, even from the Cross. “Forgive them Lord for they do not know what they do.” So, if we were complicit in his death, if we’re murdered him, he is showing us that he still loves us, that we are still forgiven, still his children.
There is already a desolation to today’s liturgy: the lack of musical accompaniment, the short and silent procession onto the sanctuary, the prostration, the veneration of the cross, and so on. But in these days of lockdown it feels all the more desolate. Many cannot go to church. This, then, is a wonderful time to enter into the story of Christ’s death, concentrating as we always do in the Gospel on where we fit into that story. Let us lay aside our temporary inability to go where we want, and offer it to God, remembering the extraordinary sacrifice from the Cross and how it has direct meeting to our lives. And the meaning is this: that we are loved, that we are the children of God.