Easter Triduum 2021
“When they reached the place called The Skull, they crucified him there, and the two criminals also, one on the right, the other on the left” (Lk 23:33).
Three men are crucified in the place called Golgotha (The Skull). They all are subjected to the same sentence of death. All four evangelists wrote that two robbers are crucified with Jesus, one on his right and one on his left. Our Lord is, then, between two criminals.
Those who pass by jeer at Jesus, saying: the one, who gave salvation to others, cannot save himself. Even one of the two thieves hanging there taunts at him in the same way. The other one is aware that they “are paying for what they did”, while “This man has done nothing wrong” (Lk 23:41). The inscription on Jesus’ cross says “The King of the Jews”: and in fact, the good thief addresses him as a king, saying: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). Is Jesus a king, then?
Jesus promises the good thief that that same day he will be with him in paradise (Lk 23:43).
Jesus had answered Pilate: “Mine is not a kingdom of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews. As it is, my kingdom does not belong here”. When Pilate asked Jesus if he was a King, our Lord replied: “Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth”. (Jn 18:36-37).
What kind of kingdom does Jesus want to establish?
What power does he want to show to mankind?
His kingdom does not have the features of an earthly one.
The soldiers, after having Jesus scourged at the pillar, “made him wear a scarlet cloak and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, «Hail, king of the Jews!»” (Mk 27:29).
What a strange crown Jesus chose for himself!
What an unusual sceptre!
What weird clothes Jesus wore as a king!
This king does not have any servants. As a master, Jesus chose and called some men to follow him, but at the foot of the cross there are just John, the beloved disciple, and Mary, Jesus’ mother, who is unable to be driven away from there.
A king generally has to take on some responsibilities, some duties to observe: Jesus receives the cross, which he embraces willingly. Its weight is so heavy that Jesus will fall three times.
Now Jesus is nailed to the cross and from there, as from his throne, he can govern his people.
He remembers us that we are always God’s children: “Jesus cried out in a loud voice saying: «Father, into your hands I commit my spirit»”. (Lk 23:46) We are never alone! Even if life seems to fight against our happiness, we have always a Father above in the heaven: He is invincible in mercy and tenderness. Because of his deep relationship with the Father, Jesus can say: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
By his obedience to the Father, Jesus teaches us that God is the real source of goodness and loyalty. The way He dies becomes also a source of conversion for many: in fact, the evangelist Mark proclaims: “The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said, «In truth this man was Son of God.»” (Mk 15:39). We cannot be afraid of such a king!
From the cross, seeing his mother and the disciple he loved, Jesus entrusts them to each other: he was not Mary’s son any more. He renounces the person who is the most able to partake of his sufferings, because he wanted us to have Mary as our tender mother too.
Jesus keeps nothing for himself, till the point to give up his spirit. (cf. Jn 19:30)
Even when Jesus is dead, he continues to bestow gifts on us: “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water” (Jn 19:34).
Jesus is a tender, gentle, generous king and his kingdom has the power of mercy, forgiveness and righteousness.
We may approach Jesus and his throne any time we need and want.
His stretched-out arms on the cross say to us our God is ready to welcome and embrace each of us.