HE DIED AS HE HAD LIVED
How did Jesus spend his last hours? What was his attitude at the moment of execution? The Gospels don’t stop to analyze his feelings. They simply recall that Jesus died as he had lived. Luke, for example, has wanted to point out Jesus’ goodness until the end, his closeness to those who suffer, and his capability to forgive. According to his story, Jesus died loving.
In the midst of the crowd who observed the passage of those condemned on the way to the cross, some women come close to Jesus crying. They can’t see him suffer like that. Jesus «turns toward them» and he looks at them with the same kindness with which he had always looked at them: «Do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children». That’s how Jesus marches toward the cross: thinking more in those poor women than in his own suffering.
Just a few more hours until the end. From the cross is only heard the insults of some and the cries of pain of the ones to be executed. Suddenly one of them directs himself to Jesus: «Remember me». Jesus’ response is immediate: «In truth I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise». He’s always done the same thing: cast out fears, instill trust in God, spread hope. That’s what he keeps doing until the end.
The moment of crucifixion is unforgettable. While the soldiers are nailing him to the wood, Jesus says: «Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing». That’s Jesus. That’s how he has lived always; offering sinners the forgiveness of the Father, even if they don’t deserve it. According to Luke, Jesus dies asking the Father to keep blessing those who are crucifying him, to keep on offering the Father’s love, forgiveness and peace to everyone, even those who are killing him.
It’s not strange that Paul of Tarsus invites the Christians of Corinth to discover the mystery that’s enclosed in the Crucified One: «In Christ God was reconciling the world to Self, not taking into account our transgressions». That’s how God is on the cross: not accusing us of our sins, but offering us God’s forgiveness.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf