As we meditate on the Passion of Our Lord this Good Friday, we are struck by the incredible suffering Jesus humbly and obediently endured for our sake. After surviving hours of cruelty and torture, Christ hung in agony for three hours upon the cross. Nailed as He was, Jesus endured unspeakable pain each time He lifted His body up to speak. Yet He persevered until the end, teaching and reaching out with love.
Let us reflect upon the words spoken in today’s Gospel according to St. John:
“Woman, behold, your son…Behold, your mother.”
In perhaps one of the most moving displays of love, Jesus continues to think of others even as He is jeered by the crowd as he is slowly dying on the cross. Jesus looks out for the needs of His mother, making sure she is cared for after His death, and Our Lord looks out for our needs as well. Jesus makes His mother Our Blessed Mother, too. At that moment, we truly became her children and like any tender mother, Mary wants what is best for us. She knows what’s best is to tirelessly lead her children to her Son. If we accept her as our mother, Our Lady will do just that. She is our quickest path to Jesus! According to Saint Louis Marie de Montfort in his Total Consecration : “To go to Jesus, we must go to Mary; she is our Mediatrix of Intercession. To go to God the Father, we must go to Jesus; for he is our Mediator of Redemption.” (T.D. #86)
It can be assumed Jesus was parched from the hours of mistreatment. “Thirst is one of the great agonies of crucifixion,” writes Fr. Christopher Rengers, OFM Cap., in The Seven Last Words of Christ. (TAN Books and Publishers, 2002) “It was caused by the loss of blood, by fever and by general exhaustion. Thirst accompanies any long, drawn-out pain. It can become worse than the original pain that causes it.”
Yet Jesus thirsts for much more than water. St. Augustine says these words showed not only the Savior’s desire for drink, but even more a desire that his enemies might believe in Him and be saved. (The Seven Last Words, p. 50) As suggested by Fr. Rengers, each of us will have many opportunities to help save souls for Christ.
“If we really love Christ,” writes Fr. Rengers, “we will want the things that He wants. With our whole soul, we will seek to help in whatever way we can so that souls may be saved.” We can do this by our simple witness to faith, by showing the love of Christ to others in our words and actions. We do this quietly and without fanfare as we go about our everyday lives. Let us ponder the ways Our Lord might be calling us to witness and to help quench His undying thirst for souls.
“It is finished.”
As Jesus gave up His Spirit, He finished the mission given to Him by the Father. But for us, the mission is just beginning. It is up to us to ask the Holy Spirit to help us discern God’s will for us, and to do it.
“Each day we ought to pray with Christ,” continues Fr. Rengers. “‘Not my will, but thine be done.’ (Lk 22:42). We must be convinced that we are here to do God’s Will, to accomplish some special job. Our job may be easy or hard, but whatever it is, God will see us through.” (p. 71)
At the end of each day, and at the end of our earthly life, let us be able to look back on a job well done. As Fr. Rengers concludes, “Like Christ on the Cross we will be able to say: ‘It is consummated. I have done the work You gave me to do.’”
Diane Freeby, SMC ’88