Commentary by Donagh O’Shea OP, www.goodnews.ie
… As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews….’
The crowd that cheered him on were soon yelling ‘Crucify him!’ That’s the way a crowd, “that numerous piece of monstrosity,” tends to behave. “Who do people say I am?” he once asked. How could they know who he was? They didn’t know who they themselves were. A crowd are not a community; they have no lasting purpose, they hardly even know one another; but somehow they are able to energise one another for the worse. At his birth the angels sang, “Peace on earth!” Here he is, near the end of his life, at the mercy of a mindless mob screaming for his blood.
His life has been called “the greatest story ever told.” It is not only the story of Jesus, it is the story of the world. It is the two together forming a single story. He is one of us, he was born here, he walked our streets. This is how our world deals with such a person. The death of Jesus reveals many things: the incorruptibility of his spirit, the depth of his love and forgiveness, the reality of his relationship with the Father; it also reveals the barbarity, legal and illegal, that ordinary human beings are capable of. It shows us “the light of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:7); it also reveals the ugly face of humanity. It is a double revelation.
Is there any hope for our world? Look again. He is one of us. He called us brothers and sisters. We know we are capable of the worst, but by being one of us he makes us capable of integrity, love, forgiveness…. We are a crowd, but we can be a new community. It is a double revelation.
He revealed the weakness hidden in power – and the power hidden in weakness.
His resurrection will reveal that the Father is indeed like the Prodigal Father in his parable. It will also reveal that we too are mysteriously raised up with him – because he is one of us.