The disciples all left, save one. Along with his mother the beloved disciple stayed at the foot of the cross. And in my imagination I often enter into this scene and I picture Mary, the Mother of Jesus, looking at the beloved disciple and saying “You’re not going to leave me here all alone are you?”
I’m sure it was all too much to bear. I’m sure it was horrifying. I’m sure the guards pushed back and didn’t let them get too close. I’m sure that tears were shed and that they were frightened.
But I’m also sure that it was more than just a little bit brave.
When I look to the cross I want to look away. I want to avoid the pain and the horror. But the truth is that I need to be able to be the beloved disciple and to stay with Jesus. To acknowledge the wounded part of not only who I am, standing before God in all my imperfections, but also to admit that God is also wounded with me, wounded for me.
Jesus accepts the cross for us and in so doing He not only accepts our human death but perhaps the most brutal human death. A tortured God in a tortured world that too often forgets about God.
Jesus wants us not to forget. And so he hangs, not in a sense of masochism, but rather in a place of suffering with all those who needlessly suffer because of the brokenness of the world we live in.
That brokenness continues today.
If we but stay at the cross with Christ we can enter into sharing our suffering with God who redeems all that we bring to the cross. But moreover, we can enter into the suffering of others. Those who are hungry, homeless, facing war, unloved and unwanted, murdered, addicted, abused and treated unjustly.
Can we stand at the foot of their cross as well–knowing that sometimes, we too, are helpless to change the situations of those in dire situations? We can’t possibly help them all. We can’t possibly heal the entire world or maybe even our corner of it all by ourselves.
Archbishop Romero reminds us that we are not messiahs or master builders. Rather we come before the cross with all that we are. And God somehow changes us to see all that we can be.
And that is enough for God.
When we come before the cross with the bravery to admit that we are not perfect, when we can stand responsible for the mess we often make of things and ask for God’s forgiveness, we then can see beyond the cross into God’s redemption.
It is here at the foot of the cross that we too stand naked and wounded. God sees us for who we are with wounded eyes of His own and forgives us anyway.
But we need to be brave enough to stand here with Jesus, with His mother, as a beloved disciple.
“You’re not going to leave me here all alone are you?”
On this Good Friday not only do we need to respond to that question as a beloved disciple brave enough to face the cross…
But we also need to listen to ourselves as God the same question in our own suffering.
And to see God’s response…as we find our savior hanging from a tree…never leaving us alone, but sharing in our wounds and redeeming all that we suffer.