Commentary on Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
1. One scene – the veil of the Temple is torn in two.
The Holy of Holies is thrown open.
God is no longer hidden behind a veil, inaccessible to all but the High Priest,
and then only once a year.
God in Jesus, battered and naked on the Cross, is made accessible to all.
Yet, it still needs discerning eyes to see – and yet even a pagan soldier could do it (Mark 15:39).
2. Ron Rollheiser points out how all cultures sacrificed blood to their gods.
Blood was associated with the life principle.
We can bleed to death.
The most precious offering to God is blood.
And the most precious of all was human blood.
We have the example of ancient American cultures.
Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac is related to this practice among some Middle East peoples.
Later human sacrifice eliminated and only animals used.
By the time of Jesus, Rollheiser says, the Temple had become a giant butchery
with priests killing animals non-stop.
When Jesus drove out the money-changers, it was estimated that 90 percent of commerce was linked to animal sacrifices.
3. Why, then, so much blood at Jesus’ death?
Franciscan Richard Rohr suggests:
For so many centuries people have been spilling blood to get to God.
But in the crucifixion it is reversed –
God spills his own blood to reach out to us.
This is to take away our old fear, that by spilling blood we try to appease an angry God.
There is no such thing as an angry God – only an unconditionally loving God.
4, Paul tells us that Jesus emptied himself.
He emptied himself of all egoism, of all anger, fear and anxiety,
of all human dignity in the sight of others.
He let go of everything and because he did so, he was fully taken up in union with his Father.
For us it has to be the same.
Our lives are so tied up with all kinds of concerns, desires, ambitions, fears and anxieties.
We need to remove these blocks and just let go.
To break down the barriers separating us from total union with the Source and Goal of all being.
The Way is shown clearly in the Gospel and most of all in the Way of the Cross
— leading to resurrection, new life and ascension, union with God in Christ.
Paul was very close to it when he said:
“I live, no not I, but Christ lives in me.”