Many of you will be viewing your parish churches’ live-stream services for Good Friday. You may also want to watch the movie “The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson today. It seems each time I view it something different speaks to my heart that I didn’t pick up before.
I Will Draw All People to Myself
This time it was the elevation of the Cross. The words of scripture kept going through my head: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (Jn. 12:32).
Before this moment we see Jesus’ Mother, John the beloved apostle and Mary Magdalene are bent close to the ground in their sorrow. They were the only ones on their knees. The Magdalene is sobbing uncontrollably and our Blessed Mother has her hands clenched full of pebbles and dirt of the earth. I read somewhere that this was a Jewish symbol of being “finished”, or finally giving up, when one throws the dirt from their hands.
But Mary doesn’t throw it.
Their Eyes Were Opened
Instead there is a subtle but very significant change happening. It starts to change when Mary Magdalene is the only one to see the miracle of the Cross hovering inches above the ground after they throw it on its backside to secure the nails. This should have smashed Jesus flat on the ground face first. Mary Magdalene was on the ground in agony until she looked up to see the Cross wasn’t touching the ground at all. After that, they throw the precious Body of our Lord and the Cross back with a heavy blow and begin to gradually lift it up.
Now the music is telling us there is an awakening. All three of Jesus’ loved ones slowly begin to stand on their feet, all eyes fixed on Jesus. St. John’s face is full of wonder and awe; his eyes mostly unmoistened by tears thus far are now filling up, yet remain wide open. His memory flashes back to the Last Supper when Jesus lifts the bread up and says, “this is My Body.”
Our Blessed Mother’s countenance has even changed. Oh yes, she knew all along her son was the holy Son of God, and she was intimately a part of His plan. But she was first this Child’s mother. Watching her son suffering was not something she could just turn off and remind herself the final outcome was victory. Up to now we saw only her fight to stay the course, to remain abandoned to the Father’s will and try to survive this ordeal. Same with the other two.
But watch her face change as Jesus is lift up … the elevation of His Body and Blood (sound familiar?). Now she sees her God before her.
Watch the face of Mary Magdalene. No more tears. Just awe. She reverently covers her head with a black garment. God is being killed. She stands.
The veil on their eyes has been lifted and they now see Him as GOD. This is GOD.
And Mary the Mother drops the dirt.
So be it. Amen.