We are fools of the cross.
Today, we will hear of the soldier who stood at the foot of the cross and pierced the side of our Lord. He beholds the wonder of God as a fool of the cross and professes, according to Saint Matthew, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Matthew 27.54).
Perhaps this soldier also saw our Lord scourged, mocked, spat on, and ridiculed. Perhaps he witnessed the tenderness of an innocent lamb sent to be slaughtered and heard our Lord pray the psalms as we did today, “Decay invades my bones, my legs tremble beneath me. I await the day of distress that will come upon the people who attack.”
What did this fool of Christ see at the cross of our Lord? He saw the horror of suffering; he was an eyewitness to the torment and lowliness inflicted on Jesus; he saw Judas betray him; he heard the lies fabricated among the Pharisees; he saw Pilate judge him; he heard Jesus cry, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”; he saw unbelievable cruelty and the silence of a distant God.
At the same time, the soldier witnessed the incredible love of God and love for friends. For his enemies Jesus forgave; for the thief Jesus promised paradise; for his mother Jesus secured a new family; and to the God who had abandoned him, Jesus abandoned himself to the Father. This is the God of the psalms who has strengthen the bars of our gates, established peace on our borders, and feeds us with the finest wheat. This is the God who hurls down hailstones like crumbs and whose word freezes the water and melts it. The soldier saw the horror of Good Friday and was moved to Truth that God over-compensates his love in his Son Jesus. The soldier stood in wonder that God could love us in his suffering, he stood at the foot of the cross and perhaps prayed the psalm, “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.”
Are we like the soldier today on this Good Friday? Can we stand at the cross of Jesus with the crucifixion of the poor and marginalized in our own backyard? Can we imitate the love of Jesus in the face of hatred and violence? Can we live the love that refuses to die, love that disguises itself in the horror of the cross? Can we be fools of love found in the Crucified One?
We must keep watch as the soldier did on that first Good Friday. We must watch over Jesus to see what he sees. We must bear our crosses so others may be moved to encounter Love face to face. We must keep watch because the very weakness of God, found here on Good Friday, is stronger than human strength.
Today, we are fools of the cross because in the midst of suffering we have found Love, in the midst of horror we have stood face to face with the God who will not let us go, in the midst of tragedy we have found the triumph of God’s love and he has given us reason to breath, to exist, to love the unlovable.
Today is Good Friday! The world will go about its business while we, fools of Christ, keep watch with Jesus who is the central protagonist of this whole week which we call holy. It is not about us. It is about Him, the Jesus of history, the Jesus of faith, the Jesus who loved us in his suffering.