The great majority of humanity lives today crucified by misery, hunger, the scarcity of water, and unemployment. Nature is also crucified, devastated by the industrialist greed that refuses to accept any limits. Mother Earth is crucified, exhausted to the point of having lost her internal equilibrium, which is evident from global warming.
The religious and Christian understanding sees Christ Himself present in all these crucified beings. By having assumed our human and cosmic reality, He suffers with all who suffer. The roaring chain saws bringing down the jungles are blows to His body. He continues bleeding in our decimated ecosystems and polluted waters. The incarnation of the Son of God established a mysterious solidarity of life and destiny with all that He assumed, with all of humanity and all the shadows and lights that our humanity presupposes.
The oldest Gospel, the Gospel of Saint Mark, records the terrible words at the death of Jesus. Abandoned by all, in the height of the cross, He also feels abandoned by the Father of goodness and mercy. Jesus cries:
«”My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” “And Jesus cried with a loud voice , and gave up the ghost ”» (Mark 15,34.37).
Jesus did not die as all of us die. He died murdered in the most humiliating form of that time: nailed on a cross. Hanging between heaven and Earth, He agonized for three hours on the cross.
The human rejection that could decree the crucifixion of Jesus, cannot define the meaning that Jesus gave to the crucifixion imposed on Him. The One crucified defined the meaning of His crucifixion as solidarity with all the crucified of history who, as Himself, were, are, and will be victims of violence, of unjust social relations, of hatred, of the humiliation of the lesser and of the rejection of the proposal of a Kingdom of justice, fraternity, compassion and of unconditional love.
In spite of His solidarian surrender to the others and to His Father, a terrible and last temptation invades His spirit. The great conflict of Jesus, now agonizing, is with His Father.
The Father He had experienced with profound filial intimacy, the Father He had announced as merciful and full of goodness, a Father with traits of a tender and caring Mother, the Father whose Kingdom He had proclaimed and brought forward in His liberating praxis, that Father now appears to have abandoned Him.
Jesus goes through the hell of the absence of God.
Around three in the afternoon, minutes before the tragic ending, Jesus cried with loud voice: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani: my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”. Jesus is almost without hope. From the most abysmal emptiness of His spirit, arise dreadful questionings that create the most startling temptation suffered by human beings, and now by Jesus, the temptation of desperation. Jesus asks himself:
“Could it be that my faithfulness was absurd? Is the struggle carried out by the oppressed and by God senseless? Was it all in vain: the risks I went through, the persecutions I endured, the humiliating judicial-religious process in which I was condemned with the capital sentence: the crucifixion that I suffer now?”
Jesus finds himself naked, impotent, totally empty before the Father who is silent and with that silence reveals all His Mystery. He has no one to hold on to.
According to human criteria, Jesus totally failed. His interior certainty disappears. But even though there is a sunset on the horizon, Jesus continues trusting in the Father. Because of that He cries in loud voice: “My Father… My Father”. In the apex of His despair, Jesus gives Himself up to the truly nameless Mystery. That will be His only hope beyond of any security. He no longer has any support by Himself, only through God, that is now in hiding. The absolute hope of Jesus can only be understood in the assumption of His absolute desperation. Where hopelessness abounded, hope was over abundant.
The greatness of Jesus consisted of enduring and overcoming this frightful temptation. This temptation brought Him to a total surrender to God, an unconditional solidarity with His brothers and sisters, also desperate and crucified throughout history, a total divestiture of Himself, an absolute de-centering of Himself in function of the others. Only that way death is death and can be complete: the perfect surrender to God and to the suffering sons and daughters of God, the smallest of His brothers and sisters.
The last words of Jesus show His surrender, neither resigned nor fatal, but free: Father. into thy hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23,46). It is finished (John 19,30).
The Good Friday continues, but does not have the last word. The resurrection as the emergence of the new being is the great reply of the Father and the promise to us all.
Leonardo Boff Theologian-Philosopher of the Earthcharter Commission
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.