Good Friday and the affirmation of Life
Christendom takes time every “Holy Week” to reflect on the passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus over 2,000 years ago. The foundation of the Christian faith finds synthesis in the resurrection, when life conquers death, from its beginning in the incarnation, when the word became flesh—that is, when the Creator took on the human life reality. The universal message then assumes “wholeness”: Human life, every single identity created, is brushed onto the canvas of eternity, a never-ending Life. This is the true gift from the Creator to the created: Life is Forever.
Anthony de Mello, SJ, shares in “The Song of the Bird” a parable of the little fish: “Excuse me, said an ocean fish, you are older than I so can you tell me where this thing they call the ocean is? The ocean, said the older fish, is the thing you are in now. Oh, this? But this is water. What I am seeking is the ocean, said the disappointed fish as he swam away to search elsewhere.”
Where is this thing called “Forever”? Echoing the older fish, the answer is: Where one is right here, right now is Forever. Every human being is created to and in Forever. We are all in this ocean called Forever.
Jesus’ death on the cross on the first “Good Friday” can only have meaning against the reality of His life transcending the mortality He assumed with the human flesh. His incarnation is but an affirmation that the shared life of the Creator with the created is eternal. His immortality was never disrupted by the mortality of His flesh. The mortal human being, from conception, is created into immortality. But there is a catch: Acceptance of this Truth is essential. A gift requires free choice to confirm and realize reception. And then it will naturally be shared by affirming the Truth with everyone not yet in acceptance of it. The sharing will be done by the Giver Himself who is in everyone, using those who have accepted the Truth. This is universal from the beginning of time. It is not by our merit that we get to this truth. It is a gift every human being can choose to receive. The Creator is all about Life. Real death is a consequence of rejecting Him.
The culture of death and impunity contradicts the reality of the Creator. The death penalty meted out on Jesus that fateful Friday on Golgotha is a manifestation of the ultimate rejection of Life. He who is Life was condemned to die. Yet the offering of His life affirms His eternal Life. The life in the world is but an iota in the Life
into which we are created. There is eternity in the infinite and overwhelming love shared by the Creator. We are invited to accept the gift. The unimaginable pain
Jesus suffered on the cross overrides all pain and suffering in the world, affirming the eternal Life given to all in love. “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Imagine eternity separated from the infinite love the Creator shares, or a never-ending state of brokenness, still trying to find who one really is, without resolution forever. This must be hell! Only with the Creator, in union with Him, is eternal life a blessed reality. And that reality is now, as we accept the gift. The length and breadth of the Creator’s love for all are beyond bounds. Jesus’ crucifixion and death on the cross, His resurrection and incarnation are the indomitable expression of this love. No gratitude will ever be enough to respond to it, and none is asked. Sharing is the only “thank you” needed, by making the Creator’s love overflow for others.
It is sad when the death penalty comes up as an option to be meted out on those who pursue death, killings and heinous forms of violence. Jesus’ crucifixion is the single most compelling argument that the death penalty and any other killing can never be right. It runs counter to the nature of the Creator. The divine response to every form of violence is mercy and forgiveness, for we know not what we do.
With no judgment on any one, meditating on Jesus’ passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection this “Holy Week” should provide a perspective on the universal call to share Life and shun death. One person taking on the path of nonviolence that is peace is one immeasurable commitment to the sharing of Life. The paradox of the cross of Good Friday over 2,000 years ago is that it is a self-fulfilling affirmation of true Life.
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Danilo S. Venida (danilosvenida@gmail. com) is a former president of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and now a business consultant.