In the chapel of St. John's hangs the Corpus Christi. On either side of this rendering of the crucifixion are windows depicting Mary, His mother, and John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. This scene was part of the Passion Gospel of John read this evening:
26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ 27Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Jesus, as he is dying an agonizing death, is bringing together two people in a familial kinship. Before this moment, Mother Mary and Disciple John may have been at most acquaintances. But Jesus is providing the bond that draws two strangers together in Love.
Another verse in the Gospel passage from tonight also caught my attention:
There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
John's Gospel doesn't elaborate on this moment in the way that Matthew and Luke feel the need to discuss the ones hanging along side Jesus. Matthew would have us believe that the criminals, who we believe are justly accused as opposed to innocent Jesus, join with the crowds in mocking him. Luke, on the other hand, gives us a more hope-filled moment where one criminal is mocking Christ, and the other criminal comes to Jesus' defense and asks Chris tto remember him. And Jesus, again in the midst of his own physical pain, assures that criminal that today, he will be with Christ in paradise.
Jesus' arms, stretched out on the hard wood of the cross, is reaching out to those condemned to die with him. That reach, extending forward to us today, invites us, too, to die with Christ to all those various sins of failure to love more fully, pay attention to those around us, reach out to those in need. This is the day of recongition, reconciliation, and repentance.
It seems fitting, then, that Good Friday represents the day that hangs in-between Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil proclamation of that Christ has conquered death. Its solemness and the hard wood of the cross remind us that we must endure and pass through this pain before we can celebrate on Saturday night/Sunday morning. And even as we are in pain, we are not exempt from reaching our hands forth in Love.