Thursday, March 28, 2013
He Handed Over the Spirit
March 29, 2013
Friday of the Passion of the Lord
By Melanie Rigney
Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:1-4)
In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God. (Psalms 31:2, 6)
In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5:7)
Aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. (John 19:28-30)
O Sacred Head, surrounded by crown of piercing thorn! O bleeding Head so wounded, reviled and put to scorn! Our sins have marred the glory of Thy most Holy Face, yet angel hosts adore Thee and tremble as they gaze. (Traditional hymn; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XppXi_jZKWk)
He was left almost friendless, with only his mother, his aunt, Mary of Magdala and the apostle John there at the end. Who would have believed what had happened, that the man who had had a huge entourage with him through much of his three-year ministry had been all but abandoned.
But as Paul tells us in today’s reading from Hebrews, he was heard by the One who mattered above all others, the One who had sent him. And when his suffering was complete, so was his time in earthly form.
On this most solemn of days, we contemplate the cross he carried for us… and the crosses we refuse to let him carry for us: Hatred. Prejudice. Fear. Envy. Lust. Greed. Insecurity. Perhaps it’s time to hand them over as well and commend our earthly spirits anew, confident enough to ask for salvation and the grace of starting over.
Jesus’ last words before his earthly death were, “It is finished.” Talk with family members or friends about what his handing over of the spirit means to each of you as Christians, and ways in which you might live your lives more grateful to God.