Day 35: Tuesday of 5th week of Lent

Spot beneath the altar at Golgotha where Jesus was crucified

THE DYING OF JESUS

 

  1. Document: Holy Scripture Readings

1.1.  First Reading: The Book of Numbers 21: 4-9

1.2.  Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St John 8: 21-30

1.3.  Simple Comment: The two readings, like those of yesterday, synchronize. Just as the Book of Numbers narrate that the healing power supplied by God to his inveterate people came from the very serpent that bit them but now raised on a pole, so too Jesus predicts that when he is lifted up on the pole of the cross, his very humanity that succumbs to death will be the source of healing grace to those who look up to him.

 

  1. Monument: Golgotha

2.1.  Golgotha (meaning Skull’s Hill precisely because it jutted out like a skull) in the time of Jesus was an abandoned quarry of limestone. It seems that the hill, 15 feet in height, was shaped by human doing – by the constant quarrying of construction materials around it. This mound was left intact because the stonecutters found its material of poor quality. Some Scripture scholar once commented that it literally fit what Jesus quoted from Isaiah: the stone which the builders have rejected has become the cornerstone! Indeed, on this rejected mound of limestone stood the cornerstone of humanity’s salvation!

2.2.  Golgotha as a mound is unrecognizable today to the unperceiving eye. It is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. However, to those who are perceptive, they would realize that to arrive at the spot of Jesus’ crucifixion, they would have to climb either of the two steep sets of steps (on one side like a narrow spiral staircase or on the other side straight upward but with extraordinarily tall steps).

2.3.  An unprotected, uninhabited and scroungy place outside the city, Golgotha was only fit for crucifying criminals and burying them nearby. This is where the Son of God ended up, much like the uncouth manger where he began his life in the world he has created.

 

  1. Lenten Reflection

3.1.  To see Jesus on the cross is to see the great love of God for humanity! This statement by many preachers is very true. There is, however, another way of putting it. To see Jesus on the cross is to see what humanity is like when lost in sin and abandoned to himself by God. Isaiah wrote about the Suffering Servant of Yahweh: “Many people were aghast at him – he was so inhumanly disfigured that he no longer looked like a man. He has no form or charm to attract us, no beauty to win our hearts; he was despised, the lowest of men, a man of sorrows, one from whom, as it were, we averted our gaze, despised for whom we had no regard.” In fact, Jesus would cry out when crucified: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

3.2.  The Jesus we adore in the Blessed Sacrament is also the same Jesus who we know died on the cross. It is easier and more pacific on our part to worship the glorious Jesus, the risen Lord; much harder to accept him in the cumbersome instances of our daily life, among the people suffering in our neighborhood, in the struggles, sorrows and pain of our modern, but many times unjust, society.

 

  1. Contemporary Filipino Question: Our society teems with many sorrowful people, sad situations and tragic lives. Because of so much frequency we have gotten used to avert our gaze, to pretend these do not exist and to feign the call for our involvement. Walang pakialaman is the scourge of today’s individualistic world. God’s involvement in our miseries is a clear call that to be Christian – and to be truly Filipino – sangkot ako! Kapwa ko pananagutan ko has always been – since 1968 – the call of the Filipino Lenten season. Let’s do it!