…something ended. Something else began.
God became man to gather His scattered people. The Creator became a shepherd of men, a pastor. He summoned the wandering sheep by the sweet, true sound of His voice.
The sheep heard the call and came to Him. He taught them His unique heavenly doctrine.
“Your Father provides for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, who neither sew nor reap nor toil or spin. You are worth more than many sparrows… Forgive seventy times seven times… There is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come… If someone strikes you on the left cheek, offer him the right cheek as well…”
The sheep heard His words and took note. But they did not understand.
As late as Holy Thursday night, the lambs who had walked closest to the divine pastor still had no idea what valley they were about to walk through.
“Lord, why do you reveal yourself to us and not to the world? Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Lord, show us the Father, then we will be satisfied. Lord, even though I have to die with you, I will not deny you!”
Deep into the night, Christ spoke to them about the Blessed Trinity and the Holy Spirit. They listened and took note, but they did not understand.
The College of Apostles, the beloved community gathered on earth by the Son of God Himself, the original “parish cluster”… Yes, we have to do our best to work together, build consensus, dialogue, etc. But let’s be sober and humble enough to face this fact: The New Testament contains one example of the Apostles acting in complete unity; this is the one thing they did together with nary a disagreeing word. Matthew 26:56: “They all left Him and fled.”
The prophecy had declared: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”
When Pilate asked the crowd what fate should befall the Son of Man, the people shouted, “He deserves to die!”
He deserves to die. Double-thick irony. This man, and this man alone, deserves to live. But He Who is without sin had become sin. This man took the just sentence that falls on mankind. He deserves to die? No. We deserve to die.
Something ended on Good Friday.
Our delusions of grandeur? Gone. Perfection on earth? No. Everybody’s right? Wrong.
The flock of the Messiah fled. Man, the paragon of animals, crumbled. Us, smart? We know not what we do.
The Gilded Age of man ended on Good Friday. All the cheap makeup smudged off the nose of the pig. Christ said it Himself: Who did the Son of God call “the ruler of this world?” Not a good guy. The liar and father of lies rules this world.
But something else began on Good Friday. Our Lady caressed the Lord’s broken body in her arms. Brave Joseph opened up his tomb. Nicodemus spent his life-savings on expensive oils, and Mary Magdalen could not sleep for worrying about getting to the tomb and anointing the holy pastor’s body.
Two of the fleeing cowards met each other on the road out of town and began to commiserate; a Stranger fell in with them and explained it all. The Eleven found each other hiding in the upper room, and Someone came in through the locked door. He wished them peace and asked for something to eat.
Was the flock scattered forever? No. Was their shaken faith altogether crushed? No. Was their pastor gone forever? Was He?
The Christian faith began. The Church began. Life according to the Spirit began.