Friday, April 10, 2020


The Cross, as we all know, was a vile, degrading instrument of torture. No one went willingly into this state of being so unprotectedly exposed. The place that Karl Barth named Das Nichtige; and Walter Bruggemann described as “the crushing irresistible force of disorder as yet untamed and on the loose in our world.” No one willingly goes into this place. But Jesus did. And John’s Passion narrative makes it abundantly clear that this was a deliberate choice on Jesus’ part. “And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” Why? In order to make unmistakably visible, God’s love! God’s astounding desire to be ‘with us.’ And in so doing to transform this hideous instrument of torture into something desperately beautiful. 

I will end by leaving you with this excerpt from our Fr. Simeon’s final volume on Matthew’s Gospel. “The Passion will crush Jesus in every possible way; indeed it will destroy him insofar as human eyes can tell.  And yet his obliteration will be like the crushing of grapes, a destruction that horribly disfigures the fruit’s original shape and integrity yet only in order to transform it into an inebriating elixir of life for others to drink and rejoice ecstatically. God can use men’s evil intentions to achieve magnificent ends. If he could not, would he still be the omnipotent, wise and loving Creator of all? The constant marvel throughout, the unfathomable divine mystery that provides the key to the Passion and the Cross, is this truth of Revelation: that, at the threshold of the Passion, the Father - whose love for his only-begotten Son is the very foundation of both the Godhead and of all creation—did not love us sinners less than he loves the one Son.” 

Safet Zec, Deposition, detail, 2014.  Abbot Damian's homily for Good Friday.