My Conversion Story

To read my conversion story, I have posted it in .pdf format available for download.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday meditation

We’re about to finish up another Lent and Easter celebration. The stores are busy selling Easter baskets while they and beer distributors are wishing everyone a “Hoppy” Easter. The families are preparing for Easter dinner, setting up schedules, buying up food ($60 of kielbasa? Is this family Polish or what?), and preparing meals. This is the happiest time of the year for us Christians (or is it “we” Christians? I can never remember).

I just finished with a wonderful Good Friday Mass. It is so moving to enter into the presence of the Lord and imagine what it must have been like watching his passion. As sorrowful as this can be, and should be, it is tempered by the fact that we know that this day our sins are forgiven. This day our Lord gave his all for us, and that in a couple of days we will celebrate his rising, showing us that we too will rise to new life.

But that is because we know what happened. We have the benefit of history and the Scriptures which tell us what happened during that most solemn of weeks. The Apostles did not have this benefit.

What must have it been like for the Apostles and disciples? Jesus told them over and over again that he would rise, yet the Gospels tell us plainly that they did not understand. These were all very devout men before Jesus came into their lives. They gave up their livelihood, their families, their security. They had boldly stated that they were following this man because he was touched by God. Simon said he was the Christ, the Son of the living God What an amazing statement, and how blasphemous if it were untrue.  Simon told him that they would die with him. He and 58 others had gone out two-by-two preaching the good news to other villages and towns and healing people in Jesus’ name.

Then came Thursday night.

In the space of under 24 hours, their hopes were dashed. Their Lord, dead. Their future of ushering in a new Kingdom, over. They could not believe what was happening. Not only had they not gone to Jerusalem to “die with him”, as Thomas said—they could not pray with him for an hour when he was clearly distressed. They left him, when only a couple of hours before they swore they would not. Judas betrayed him, but they all forsook him. Peter followed from afar and denied knowing him. John also followed, but did not come to the Lord’s defense at his trial. The people who had hailed him as the Son of David only five days earlier were now calling for his execution. No, not execution—out-and-out murder.

John, Mary, and some other Marys were at the cross that Friday afternoon. Doubtless they were wondering when he would step away from the wood nails and claim his rightful place as King and Master. But he did not. He forgave them! All of them. He gave his dear mother over to John to care for. And he died. The heavens and the earth shook. But he had died. What could be done now?

They took his body down, lovingly wrapped it in a makeshift burial cloth as there was not much time before sundown to prepare him properly. They would finish wrapping him properly on Sunday morning after the Sabbath. 

The disciples scattered. Most of the remaining Apostles huddled together for the next couple of days, hiding and commiserating.  By now they had heard of Judas’ suicide. Although condemning him for betraying Jesus, they had to be pondering their own part in these events. What would become of them now? Was it all a lie? Were they duped by a con-man? How could they face their families, the crowds, and their synagogues? Thomas was not with them. Where was he? Was he so distraught that he could not even face the other Apostles?

Sunday morning came and the women went to finish preparing the Lord’s body. The Apostles did not even go with them to move the stone for them! Then Mary Magdalene returned. “He is risen!” And everything changed.

Oh my Jesus!

Were you there when he rose up from the grave?
Were you there when he rose up from the grave?
Oh, sometimes it causes be to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when he rose up from the grave?