Walking in Pain and Empathy on Good Friday

As my faith has richened with Bible study and reflection on the sermons of my Pastor and the commentary on scripture I have written devotionals on, it has struck me that Good Friday is indeed the most important and meaningful Holy day of  the year.

It is symbolic, for me, of the essential tenet of Christian faith, i.e., Grace.  God gave his only Son for our salvation, and in doing so saved us from the devil and forgave us our sins.  There has been no greater gift to mankind in the history of the world, when you stop and ponder the sheer magnitude of our sinfulness.

This is reflected in, and symbolized by, the horrific and excruciating physical torture; rending; lashing and defilement of He Who is God made flesh.

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( ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Observe that:

–Depictions of Christ’s Passion can never be “over the top” when one considers the depths of man’s depravity toward fellow men; the folly of greed; pride and coveting, and the wallowing of our society in the shallow seas of materialism.  Small wonder that his suffering and death were so visceral and cruel.

–The physical suffering and the rending of flesh were warranted by the fact that Jesus was a man, however sinless.  The flesh in us can only truly cringe if we note that Christ, like us, was flesh and blood.

–That His suffering of scorn and ridicule was emblematic of the message God was moved to convey:  As the Son of God; he could easily have responded to deriding exhortations to “save yourself, if you are the Son of God”.  That he did not, and, instead, suffered both the torment of his fellow man and His forsaking by his father, is eloquent in depicting his acceptance of his mission to die for us rather than to prove Himself as being something other than us.

–He was “us”.  He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  As a man, even Jesus, due to his flesh and his heart and his brain, cried out for some solace; some sign that his Father could help him or come to His aid in this blackest of hours.  Indeed, His sacrifice, depicted in gruesome and gory detail, was “Good” for us.

It is fitting that Good Friday is, like Easter, assigned no date certain on modern calendars.  So momentous an occasion cannot be fixed on any mortally-invented calendar.  It rather is simply the ‘Friday before Easter’.  The joy of Easter and the celebration and exaltation of  his rising again to join His Father is enhanced and made more meaningful by its’ contrast to the blackness of the events on that blessed Friday.

For what is happiness unless one has first experienced sorrow?

That last question leads me to pose others:

–How can we purport to abide by Gods’ command to love one another unless we first experience their pain and sorrow?

–Should not our love of God be all the more intense and visceral when the pain; anguish and death of his only Son resulted in the tearing asunder of the temple veil which had, at long last, ended the separation between man and God?

–How can we ask the forbearance of others of our weaknesses and limitations unless we empathize with theirs?

Mortality is fleeting.  As such, suffering; sadness and pain, though inherent in the human lot, are also fleeting..  Whatever your answers to the questions above; strive to acknowledge Gods’ Grace by sharing it.  It can only be shared.  Let the Holy Spirit in your heart reach out and share your pain with others and let you see that your pain, and theirs, are but darknesses preceding the Light.

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Rejoice that Jesus lives in every heart, and suffers with us every day, so that we can one day know that the ‘veils’ we perceive are of our own making, not Gods‘.

 

 

 

 

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Walking ‘Heart to Heart’: The Nature of Judgement (Romans 2: 12-16)

Romans 2: 12-16

Jesus lives in every heart.

He lives in the heart of the poet; the craftsman; the servant and, even the criminal.

That it is harder to find Jesus in the arid clay of a criminals’ heart than it is to find him in the softer loam of a poets’ heart in no way negates the fact that Jesus is in residence there.  Jesus is the ‘Nature Boy’ ‘who lives in each of us.  He is the soul of our conscience, the essence of our morality.

 

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Gentiles, who “do not have the (Mosaic) law” either acknowledge the Grace of God when they do “by nature” the things required by the law, or repudiate this Grace by judging others and being stubbornly unrepentant of their own shortcomings as sinners.  Jews, in the same manner, either abide by the the laws communicated by Moses, or repudiate them out of pride or other sinful acts.


Thus, the law and its’ final judgement is universal, and does not differ according to ones’ identity as a Jew or a Gentile.  Whether written on tablets of stone, or “written in their hearts”, adherence to basic precepts of loving God and loving our neighbors as fellow sinners will result in favor with God on the day of judgement.

That day is coming.  It is crucial that we understand the ‘nature ‘of this judgement.

God, though impartial, will not be wearing a blindfold on that day.  

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He will not be holding a balance scale aloft in his upraised arm.  He will not be weighing sins.  He will not be judging the extent to which those sins are counterbalanced by “good works”.  After all….we are all sinners to begin with.

He will simply look into the heart of each of us.  He will “judge the secrets of human hearts”.  If these ‘secrets’ demonstrate that our “conflicting thoughts” have resulted in remorse or shame for our transgressions, this remorse and shame will “defend” us.

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 If, however,  our “conflicting thoughts” are those of pride, envy or of deeming our transgressions as somehow justified by a sense of entitlement due to rank, or even of ‘good works’, this pride will “accuse” us.

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Thus, the source of our salvation will not be the amount; the gravity; or even the depravity of our sins.  The source of our salvation will be our acknowledgement of Jesus in our hearts and of our sense of morality.  That we regret our lives, however sinful, shows our understanding not of ‘morals’, (for morals may differ), but of a“morality” which must have come from  an ultimate law-giver, and which could not have come from genetics; education; chance; or even evolution.

That we all have a visceral sense of what we ‘ought’ or ‘ought not’ to have done with our lives is, to me, the ultimate and incontrovertible proof that God exists;  that his Son lives in us; and that the Holy Spirit is His ‘spark’ in all of us.

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