Thursday, April 1, 2010

Where is God?!

Good Friday

At Christmas, we proclaim the birth of Jesus. We proclaim his title “Emmanuel”, meaning “God with us.” Its hard to identify that same beautiful baby in the manger with the terribly disfigured and tortured man nailed to the cross. But we must put these two images together if we are to have a complete picture of Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God born into this world as a human just like you and me. He was born not only with the best features that are available to mankind, but also born with the ability to suffer, to grieve, to cry, to feel pain, to experience failure and rejection and even the ability to die.

How can we say that God is truly with us, if he is with us only in good times? No. He is both God of our joys as well as our sorrows. He is God of our health as well as our sickness. He is God of life as well as God of our death. Here on the cross, hangs God. Here is Emmanuel. He is truly one with us. He is one with us not only in sharing a human life just like the rest of us but also one with us in death.

In a way, Good Friday is God’s answer to human suffering and pain. When faced with disaster and tragedy, many people often ask: “Where is God?” Today’s liturgy gives the clear answer. Here is God. Here lies our Almighty God who chose to be like us, to walk in our shoes, to share our joys and sorrows and also to experience our pain and suffering. Here lies the creator of the universe, He who formed the stars of the heaven and shaped the earth and all that was on it. Now on the cross, he lies dead. He is crucified by our own sinfulness, our indifference, our ambitions, our greed, our selfishness. Jesus could have chosen a natural death that comes after a long life. This is the death of a good man. But Jesus chose to die on the cross, the death of a criminal. God is one with us not only when we are good. God is one with us in our sinfulness even though he has no sin. This is so hard to understand. Perhaps, we can understand this only when we measure God’s love against our own inadequate and limited love.

Many parents often tell their children: “I will love you if you are good.” “If you are naughty, I will not love you.” Although I understand the reason why parents say these things, nevertheless, the picture that children get is that they are loved only when they are good. They begin to feel that they unloved when they are naughty and do bad things. In turn, these children also grow up learning only how to love conditionally. Love is the reward for goodness. One needs to earn love.

Today, we are told that all of this is not true. Love is not only the reward for goodness. One cannot earn love. God shows us that love is given to both saint and sinner. God loves us even while we were still sinners. The cross is proof of this. The cross is the symbol of God’s unconditional love. The cross shows that God is even prepared to take the place of the worst kind of sinners by being executed like a criminal. This is the message of the cross. God is telling us: “Whether you feel good or bad about yourself. I still love you. I love you so much that I’m prepared to give my life for you. I am with you not only when things are going well between us. I am with you also when you have forgotten me, when you have turned your back on me, when you have rejected me. I am with you always both in life and in death. I am with you here and now.”

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