A Good Friday Reflection
What strikes me about today's reading - the Passion from the Gospel according to John - is the I AM of Jesus vs. the I AM NOT of Peter.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”He said to them, “I AM.”
... and they fall back, stunned. This is repeated. Later ...
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
I AM is, of course, the Holy Name of God. In it is contained the mystery of being.
And our denial of Christ, our denial borne from fear and self-will can be no more in the end than I AM NOT. We are the antichrist; we have met the antichrist and he is us.
Also, I am struck by how perfect this story is, far too perfect for any fiction writer. The fact that Good Friday coincides with Passover, the fact that the Suffering Servant prophecy from Deutero-Isaiah, written 700 years before the birth of Christ (today's first reading), describes Our Lord with an accuracy that even the Apostles did not fully realize, the fact that human nature is so perfectly presented in the tale of the Passion - neither fiction nor drama nor myth has ever approached the richness and complexity of this true story, considered merely from the point of view of literary criticism. The Passion draws together threads that had been weaved and left mysteriously untied in Scripture, some for over a thousand years at the time. No writer of fiction could have done this.
And beyond that, dear readers, is the daily and hourly weight of sin. Some of you are far too young and far too hopeful to feel it as I do and as some of the rest of us do. But we are in such desperate need of a Savior, especially in how we are ignorant of our need of a Savior, in our smug self-satisfied way of going about and doing harm and being quite sufficient on our own, thank you, with our perversions and our betrayals and our diversions that we cover over with make-up and make-believe as if they were mere blemishes and not the fruit of our inner rot. We are I AM NOT and we are proud of it.
Today, the day that God died, may we simply pause and realize the horror of it all, and the horror of our puny I AM NOT, submitted to and remade by the great I AM.