Come down from your Cross, save yourself.

Reflection - Holy Thursday Night and Good Friday 2022

View of a civilian building damaged following a Russian rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: bigstockphoto.com/palinchak

View of a civilian building damaged following a Russian rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: bigstockphoto.com/palinchak

Easter Sunday is not far away. This reflection on Holy Thursday and Good Friday is worth mentioning though this is a column weekly. Holy Week liturgy is special for us and deserves mention.

The events of Holy Thursday night and Good Friday afternoon are beautiful and tragic and deserve a reflection.

Celebration of the Passover is integral to the Jewish and Christian faith. The Christian celebration builds on the biblical story of God, who leads us and wants to be with us. The shedding of blood is an important element in the long story of God saving the people: bloodshed for others – a sign of love and fidelity.

As we witness the appalling shedding of blood in Ukraine, we remember as we approach Easter that many people are sacrificing their lives, laying down their lives for their country. Will it be worthwhile? How will it be viewed? We see the heroism and perfidy of people side by side. It will always be so with human beings.

At the Last Supper, Jesus shared this sacred meal knowing that a traitor was present who would betray him in a matter of hours. How did Jesus know this? What evidence, what insight betrayed Judas to Jesus? How difficult betrayal is for people who trust others? We understand why spies are executed or given long prison sentences.

We are confronted with the continuing paradox of Jesus as man and God. In washing his disciples' feet, he was assuming the condition of a slave. No wonder Peter objected. How can the best ones put themselves last? How could anyone follow a leader who acts like a slave and commands his followers to do the same?

We want to honour the best among us and celebrate their courage and leadership. This seemed an ill-conceived way to act! Yet, for us, many centuries on, we see and understand the true power that can be in humility.

The dreadful description of the last days of Jesus is horrifying; it describes what we know so well, the love of blood, torture and cruelty that is institutionalised in society, then as now.

Luke's gospel informs us that after the temptation in the desert, the devil would return at the appointed time. Scholars say the appointed time was the betrayal of Jesus, his abandonment in the Garden of Gethsemane and all the suffering that followed.

The devil whispers, 'You can save yourself. Come down from the Cross.'

Not a lot of attention is paid to Mary and the women who stood at the foot of the Cross because the focus is on Jesus and his passing from this life. But the small group who stood there played a role. They were powerless to do anything by their presence, but their witness made his death significant to someone.

People really understand what Good Friday means because they have lived it in their own way. But it is not the end for believers in the risen Christ.

Columban Fr Gary Walker currently lives at the Columban house in Sandgate, Brisbane.

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