DON’T COME DOWN FROM THE CROSS
According to the Gospel story, those who passed by Jesus on the cross mocked him and, laughing at his suffering, they made two sarcastic suggestions: if you are God’s Son, «save yourself» and «come down from the cross».
That’s exactly our reaction in the face of suffering: saving ourselves, thinking only of our well-being and therefore avoiding the cross, passing through life by getting around everything that could make us suffer. Will God also be like us? Someone who only thinks of self and of one’s own happiness?
Jesus doesn’t respond to the provocation of those who mock him. He says not a word. It’s not the time for give explanations. His answer is silence. A silence that respects those who despise him, and above all, is compassion and love.
Jesus only breaks his silence to direct himself to God with a heart-rending cry: «My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?». He doesn’t ask to be saved, taken down from the cross. He only asks that he not be isolated or abandoned in this moment of death and extreme suffering. And God, his Father, keeps silent.
Only by listening deeply to this silence of God, do we discover something of God’s mystery. God isn’t a powerful and triumphant being, peaceful and happy, far from human suffering: No! God is a silent, powerless and humbled God who suffers with us the pain, the darkness and even death itself.
That’s why, when we contemplate the crucified One, our reaction can’t be one of mockery or scorn, but one of trusting and grateful prayer: «Don’t come down from the cross. Don’t leave us alone in our affliction. What use is a God who doesn’t know our sufferings? Who else could understand us?».
In whom could the tortured of so many secrete prisons hope? Where could so many humiliated and violated women without any defense put their hopes? Whom would the chronically sick and the dying hold on to? Who could offer consolation to the victims of so many wars, terrorists, hunger and misery? No. Don’t come down from the cross, since if we don’t feel you «crucified» next to us, we will see ourselves more «lost».
Jose Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf