As I reported today in my Triduum, reblog I was fortunate to be present for Cardinal Dolan, and Fr. James Martin SJ three-hour reflection and hymns at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I posted to Facebook the link to watch it live streamed, but for those of you who could not, or did not get it, I offer this summary for Holy Saturday’s reflection. Fr. James Martin SJ is America magazine’s editor at large, author of Jesus, a Pilgrimage, and spiritual Chaplain to Stephen Colbert. As I looked at a packed Cathedral, I felt the overwhelming presence of LOVE from people desiring a deeper relationship with Him.
It’s hard to see Fr. James behind the scaffolding at the Cathedral, which kept reminding me of the scene in Jesus Christ Superstar. He gave a beautiful three hours’ reflection on the passion and death of Jesus Christ which I have summarized below. Cardinal Dolan on the left was very meditative on every word from Fr. James.
The First Word
‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’
Forgiveness has to do with recognizing that people are so much more than the worst things they’ve ever done in their lives. Fr. James gave two personal example of people he knows that have seriously wounded or were wounded by another and still forgave and their actions changed lives. To forgive you must look past people’s faults as Jesus did to the thief on the cross next to him. He didn’t look at his sins but on the man behind the sin. He looked past his crimes into the person he encountered on the cross and forgave him. He teaches us from the cross to do the same. If your pain prevents you from forgiving, but you desire to forgive, God will work with that desire and give you the Grace you need to move forward and in time forgiveness will come.
THE SECOND WORD
‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’
We often doubt if God’s promise of an afterlife is true especially, when we are looking at death. St. Theresa, the little flower, doubted God’s promise too, when facing death and is quoted as saying to a sister, “If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into.” We all doubt and wonder what awaits us when we die. Will we be rewarded or punished and what about our loved ones will we ever see them again? On the cross, Jesus promises the afterlife and Jesus are not a liar. Interesting how at the last hours of His death, His name is used by a sinner. Jesus is the man who can open paradise for us and His words to the thief brought healing to him and points to the future spiritual healing planned for each of us.
To encounter Jesus means to encounter the reign of God. God is always in a loving relationship with us, and He reveals this love in personal encounters such as the birth of a child, loving compassion of a friend, nature, hymns, etc. This relationship is so important why would God every destroy it? He wouldn’t, not even death can destroy the love that God has for us. That is why in death he takes us even closer to Him when we die by bringing us to PARADISE.
THE THIRD WORD
‘Woman, behold, your son.’ ‘Son, behold, your mother.’
Jesus waited to start His public ministry not just because this of the legal age requirements, but because He wanted to ensure His mother was going to be cared for. It is presumed from the scriptures that Joseph has been dead awhile and at the cross Jesus is again, concerned about His mother’s well-being. He gives her to John for him to care for her the rest of her life. When we pray to Mary, we should remember that she is not only the Queen of heaven and mother of God, but Miriam. A woman from Nazareth that knows confusion, heartache, loss, etc., and she knows each of us now and at the hour of our death.
THE FOURTH WORD
‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
These words are from Psalm 22, which has to do with rejoicing and not abandonment, but the expression of Hope in God. It reflects the idea that God did not hide His face from Jesus but heard his cry. Another interpretation might be that He did feel spiritually abandoned. Judas, His friend, betrayed Him and all of the apostles minus one fled. When we go through troubled times, we often feel abandoned by God too. We still have faith and believe that God loves us, but we sometimes feel empty, dark and far away from the presence of God as we have known Him before. Blessed Mother Teresa knows this well. She has confessed that she felt pain and empty from the loss of God and tormented with thoughts that He did not want her or that He even existed. She felt this way for 50 years and continued to serve powerfully and love Him by faith.
THE FIFTH WORD
Shows Jesus humanity, His physical condition of being thirsty and dehydrated. His humanity puts Him in touch with our humanity and remembering women and children who have no clean water to drink and have to travel miles to get any water at all. Many are violently raped or murdered along the way, and so we pray for that to change.
THE SIXTH WORD
‘It is finished.’
Is about His surrender and it is every more powerful if he didn’t fully understand and was surprised at Easter when he awakened to full clarity and knowledge. We are to surrender all of ourselves to God’s plan too.
THE SEVENTH WORD
‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’
Jesus gives Himself entirely to the Father, and we are to do the same by living out the commandments and by living a Christian life. Hold nothing back from God including grudges, sinful habits, the need for power, status, and material possessions. We have a tendency to say, God I will give you anything you want, but not this. We are to give ourselves entirely to His Divine plan for us even when we are fearful as to what that plan might be. The more we give ourselves to God the more he multiplies our offering and creates new life from it. So we say, into your hands we commend our Spirit. HAPPY HOLY SATURDAY!