Oftentimes, as I ponder over the meaning of Good Friday when reflecting on the mystery of the cross as our instrument of salvation, I can’t help but think about the two that were crucified alongside with our Lord and Savior on that hilltop known as Golgotha or “Place of the Skull” in Hebrew. Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24 verses 39 to 43 has the image of both the impenitent and the penitent sinners being brought to justice alongside our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
How often do we view ourselves as that impenitent person that refuses to let our past go and learn how to forgive and love as Jesus did while on earth? How often do we refuse to let God’s grace transcend our very being and permeate our entire core? The penitent sinner in Luke’s Gospel asks Jesus to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. How often, do we lay down our own thoughts, desires, temptations and idols to follow Jesus more closely not only on Good Friday, but all days that our Lord has blessed us with while we are on this earth?
I oftentimes ponder if the Christians of today would recognize the Christians of the past? The Christianity of today is more simple in that one can pick and choose such tenets of faith to abide by that don’t necessarily require the same sacrifice of martyrdom as seen with the early Christian community. In order to be bold and proclaim the Good news of Jesus Christ on this day and all days, we must be willing to be like the individual hanging next to Jesus. We must be willing to lay down all of our fears, worries, misgivings, temptations, idols and other earthly possessions that hold us back to follow Jesus more closely. As disciples of Jesus, we must be willing to not only seek out the lost sheep, but also till the soil for the fruits of the earth that will bear forth life in His bountiful love.
Let us remember a hymn attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas on this day: “O Saving victim, opening wide the gate of heaven to man below! Our foes press in from every side: Thine aid supply, Thy strength bestow!” (Thigpen Paul Manual for Spiritual Warfare North Carolina: Tan Books, 2014, p. 214).
Today, let us draw near to the Lord and ask Him to give us the strength and the grace to turn to Him always and during our last hour, whenever that hour might be.