Good Friday

“Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who though He was by nature God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to, but emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave and being made llike unto men. And appearing in the form of man, He humbled Himself becoming obedient to death, even to death on a Cross” (Phil 2, 5-8).

“For our sakes He made Him to be sin who knew nothing of sin, so that in Him we might become the justice of God.” (2 Cor. 5, 21).

Psalm 21

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me

          Far from my prayer, from the words of my cry?

          O my God, I cry out by day, and you answer not;

          By night, and there is no relief for me

          Yet you are enthroned in the holy place

          O Glory of Israel!

          In you our fathers trusted;

          They trusted, and you delivered them.

          To you they cried, and they escaped;

          In you they trusted, and they were not put to shame.

          But I am a worm, not a man!

          The scorn of men, despised by the people.

          All who see me scoff at me;

          They mock me with parted lips,

          They wag their heads:

          `He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him,

          Let him rescue him, if he loves him.

You have been my guide since I was first formed, my security at my mother’s breast,

To you I was committed at birth,

         

From my mother’s womb you are my God.

Be not far from me, for I am in distress;

Be near, for I have no one to help me.

Many bollocks surround me;

The strong bulls of Basan encircle me.

They open their mouths against me like ravening and roaring lions.

I am like water poured out;

All my bones are racked.

My heart has become like wax melting away within my bosom.

My throat is dried up like baked clay,

My tongue cleaves to my jaws;

To the dust of death you have brought me down.

Indeed, many dogs surround me,

A pack of evildoers closes in upon me;

          They have pierced my hands and my feet;

          I can count all my bones.

          They look on and gloat over me:

          O my help, hasten to aid me.

          Rescue my soul from the sword,

my loneliness from the grip of the dog.

          Save me from the lion’s mouth;

from the horns of the wild bulls, my wretched life.”

 

 

“In Him, Scripture Became Flesh”[1]

 

“This Psalm 21 was for primitive Christianity a key-text of Christology in which there found expression not only the death of Jesus  on the Cross but equally the mystery of the Eucharist deriving from the Cross , the true satisfying of the `poor’ and the Church of the `Gentiles’ which derived in the same way from the Cross. So this cry in death, thought by those present to be a futile invocation of Elijah, became for Christians the most profound exposition which Jesus himself had given of his death. The theology the Cross in this Psalm was so applied to him as though the prophecy contained in it was of himself. With the accomplishment of the prophecy, the truth of this application became apparent, and the Psalm proved to be the very words of Jesus, this prayer being in truth meant for none other than himself, abandoned, despised but accepted and glorified by the Father. It should be added that the whole story of the passion is shot through with the threads of this Psalm, weaving in and out continually in an interchange between words and reality. The archetypal suffering which this Psalm indicates without naming it has here become real and actual; here is accomplished that suffering originally of a just man apparently pudiated by God. It thus becomes clear that Jesus is the true subject of this Psalm, that he bore that suffering from which springs the food of the poor ones and the conversions of the nations to the glory of the God of Israel.”

 

The Meaning of Άγάπη: “As the Father Has Loved Me, I Also Have Loved You” (Jn. 15, 9)

             The Kenosis [Self-lowering] 0f Jesus Christ:

“This was the most divine thing about God…: God was free enough to give himself up. You call your urge for fulfillment love. But who knows the essence of love if not God, since God is love? Love is not that you have loved him, but that he has loved you and has given up his very soul for you, his brothers. His eternal bliss consisted of taking delight in squandering himself by a futile love for you. His unity, belonging to another world, consisted in multiplying himself a thousandfold in the mystery of Bread and Wine like the snow or the sand of the sea, all to nourish you with divine life. This was his self-sufficiency: that he began to hunger and to thirst and that, in the person of his members, he suffered every sort of poverty and disgrace and imprisonment and nakedness and disease. This, my brothers, was his victory: that I was able to defeat even my divinity and that in the slave’s form I was able to manifest the Lord, and in sin’s likeness the essence of love. That, being outside of God, I knew how to be in God. That I became all in everything I was not.

Understand what it means to give oneself away. To strip oneself of one’s freedom out of freedom; and out of love, no longer to be free or to be lord over oneself; no longer to be able to determine where the journey will take you; to surrender oneself, to deliver oneself over to the series of consequences that carry us off in a direction we did not want – where to? You leap down from a high cliff. The leap is freely made, and yet, the moment you leap, gravity leaps upon you, and you tumble exactly lie a dead stone to the very bottom of the gorge. This is how I decided to give myself. To give myself right out of my hand. To whom? It did not matter. To sin, to the world, to all of you, to the devil, to the Church, to the Kingdom of Heaven, to the Father… I wanted to be the one given away par excellence. The corpse over which the vultures gather. The Consumed, the Eaten, the Drunk, the Spilled, the Poured Out. The Plaything. The Worn Out. The one squeezed to the very dregs. The one trod upon to infinity. The one run over. The one thinned to air. The one liquefied into an ocean. The Dissolved. This was the plan; this was the will of the Father. By fulfilling it through obedience (the fulfillment itself was obedience), I have filled the world from heaven down to hell, and every knee must bend before me, and all tongues must confess me. Now I am all in all, and this is why the death which poured me out is my victory. My descent, my vertiginous collapse, my going under (under myself) into everything that was foreign and contrary to God – down into the underworld: this was the ascent of this world into me, into God. My victory.

 

You are in God – at the price of my own Godhead. You have love – I lost it to you. This loss is my Kingdom. My Kingdom is not of this world, but the world is within my realm. When on the Cross my Heart was seating in the wine-press, when all strength had already been surrendered and only the emptiness and the impotence still suffered: when all it could yield, drop by drop, was `I can’t any more,’ and `I hardly have the will;’ when all blood had abandoned the Heart and all spirit the soul: then it was only nothingness that bled, only the water of perfect exhaustion that still flowed when the lance bored in (visibly into the Heart of flesh, and invisibly into soul, spirit and God): in me God himself became exhausted. The Inexhaustible was exhausted. Life was lived out. Love was loved out.

 

This was my victory. In the Cross was Easter. In death the grave of the world was burst open,. In the leap into the void was the ascension to heaven. Now I fill the world, and at last every soul lives from my dying. And wherever a man decides to forsake himself, to give up his own narrowness, his self-will, his power, his blockaded resistance to me, there my Kingdom flourishes. And yet, men can accomplish this only against their own will, and they prefer anything to being delivered over to my grace. For this reason I must go with them long distances, life-long distances, until they come to realize the truth, until they understand that they don’t understand, and they open up their cramped fingers and let themselves fall back into my Heart. Until they feel the ground so falter beneath them that they do not make this groundlessness into anew platform, a new stand-point, or reduce this openness to higher form of imprisonment, or form abandonment into a cleverer sort of protection, or make of God’s foolishness a more sublime kind of wisdom. Until they have grown so unaccustomed to looking at themselves that they at last look at me as if for the first time. Until, afar off, the horizon of the Kingdom begins to dawn for those who seemed to know all about Christianity. Until grown weary of their own maturity and calculations, they understand for the first time the words: `Unless you become like little children…’ Children are defenseless. Children drift about on the tides of their soul like pilotless skiffs. When a child weeps, it weeps totally. It abandons itself freely to its own tears and cannot dam up its sadness. It possesses no refuge in a tower to which it can flee to escape this flood. It weeps as long as it must, just as the heavens rain until the clouds are empty. And when a child rejoices it transforms itself wholly into joy. It lives it joy through and through, without bounds or reflections. And it is afraid, it becomes unalloyed fear. It is not clever enough (O deadly cleverness!) to erect glass wall between the horror and its own soul. The wise men of his world proclaim to you: `Blessed is he who possesses an asbestos chamber where neither the water nor the fire of life can assail him. Blessed is he who has so trained and restrained his passions that they form an uncrossable rampart around his citadel, making it unassailable to destiny.’ But I say to you: `Blessed is he who exposes himself to an existence never brought under master, who does not transcend but, rather, abandons himself to my ever-transcending grace….”[2]

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter,” Crossroad (1987)  103:  “Common to all the Evangelists is the conviction that Psalm 21 is in a particular manner in line with the passion  of Jesus, as much by its objective reality as by the personal acceptance of the passion on the part of Jesus… All, furthermore, agree that Jesus’ last words constituted the expression of his obedience without reserve to the will of the Father; the last word of Jesus was, according to them, not an invocation directed to some other man but to him, to be in dialogue with Whom was Jesus’s ultimate essence. All the Evangelists, therefore, are in agreement that the very dying of Jesus was an act of prayer, that such a death was a passing to the Father. All are in agreement that he prayed with the Scriptures and that in him Scripture became flesh, a true passion, passion of the Just One. All are consequently unanimous in maintaining that his death was made one with the word of God as his life had been, and that the word lived in him and was manifested in him” (104).

[2] Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Heart of the World,” Ignatius (1979) 179-182.

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