With slow, heavy steps, a man walks from the Holy City towards a hill, blood dripping, marking his path. He carries a burden that all men should have borne save this one – the weight of which would crush humanity to unending fire. He has been roughly treated all night, taken from governor to king and back, beaten relentlessly with heavy whips, mocked and insulted, and now he has forced on him the instrument of his death, a cross.
Why did we send our King to die? He lived His life in perfection and now goes to die for the crimes of humanity – innumerable sins, sins of blood, sins of the flesh, black souls with their midnight minds, curses of damnation, those that were, and each one that has not been yet, all heaped in a mountain so fell and grievous that only God could overcome it.
He reaches the top and there offers Himself on the altar of the Cross to His Father.
Cold iron driven through hands and feet, muscles and bone racked and stretched, splinters buried in wounds made fresh again when the clothes were pulled from clotting blood, hard dead thorns beaten into the head.
Do we weep for the suffering Christ or our sins which made Him so?
We ask: What have we done? but do we question ‘What are we doing?’
In the millennia since this moment, have we changed? Are we going to change, or continue to strike God with ingratitude?
In all this infinite injustice He prays for us still, “Father, forgive them . . .”
Do not let this Death be for nothing. When someone sacrifices for us we take notice, but how long will Christ be ignored?
There He stands, a mediator between Heaven and Earth, suspended by the sins of men, praying for us all – the Priest, the Sacrifice. A worse crime can never be conceived, no better act imagined. By a death of Love, unending death ceases unless we make it again.
And now, when ‘it is finished’, He willingly dies.
The sky which darkened in anger swells, the earth, baptized in Blood groans with pain and writhes, crying out for vengeance, tombs are shivered and dead men rise against Creation’s darkest moment – but this is the Hour of Mercy. Justice has been satisfied and the Cross stands dark, drunk with blood against the seething heavens. The murderers’ hatred is full. They go now, back to their idol, not knowing what they have done.
Silence falls with the tears of the few who loved Him enough to bear the moment. No heart can break more than our Lady’s did this day. She followed her Son, saw His pain and shared it; counted the bloody steps, heard the iron on iron through flesh. Her child, whom she once gave birth to, cared for with all the love a mother can have – she watched helplessly all the offenses hurled at Him, unable to protect or console Him. All she could do was surrender to the sword of flame that was thrust into her Immaculate Heart, and weep for the sins of her children.
Forgive us, dear Lady, for what we have done.
Evening is growing and a wave of darkness encroaches on the horizon of tomorrow’s sun. The Church has nothing left to say. Christ is dead.
We bury Him now in the heart of the earth, and turn away.
Where to go . . . how can one hide from the pain, the sorrow?
The only Love is dead, the Heart broken, the body exhausted from weeping.
No, there is no place to run, to hide. There is only an empty soul wanting for God.
And this is why we were given a Mother. Mary, the Morning Star – follow her now, in sorrow, in peace. Follow her, go to her as you would your mother. Fall into her arms and let her comfort you as she would have Christ in His agony – yes, weep for your sins and ask her to forgive you for wounding her, to pray for you to her Son that He have mercy on you.
We depart from the tomb now, and wait for the Rising.
Saviour of the world,
Give to me the strength
To carry my cross with you,
And the courage to embrace it to the end.
Let me die with you,
So that I may rise with you to life.
Have mercy on us and on the whole world, O Lord, and remember me when You enter into Your Kingdom.