Holy Friday, and I am sick. I see what a gift it was to be able to participate in last night’s Matins of Holy Friday service, now that I’ve already missed the first two services of the today and am just focusing on being better for the rest of the weekend.
While I am down it seemed a good thing to meditate on some words of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom from God and Man, in a chapter discussing Christ’s incarnation and death on the cross. I will share what seems a terribly truncated passage in the interest of accomplishing it today and in hopes that it will be just long enough to provoke profitable meditation. But I really wish you all could read this book that I first read last year and thought at the time, “That is the best book I have ever read.” Metropolitan Anthony:
One cannot be, as it were, plugged into life eternal and die. St. Maxim the Confessor underlines the fact that at the moment of his conception, at the moment of his birth, in his humanity Christ had no participation in death, because his humanity was pervaded with the eternal life of his divinity. He could not die. It is not an allegory or a metaphor when in the Orthodox Church on Thursday in Holy Week, we sing “O Life Eternal, how can you die; O Light, how can you be quenched?”
He died on the cross, and the operative words are the most tragic words of history: He, who is the Son of God, because he has accepted total, final, unreserved and unlimited solidarity with men in all their conditions, without participation in evil but accepting all its consequences; He, nailed on the cross, cries out the cry of forlorn humanity, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
…When Christ said “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” he was crying out, shouting out the words of a humanity that had lost God, and he was participating in that very thing which is the only real tragedy of humanity — all the rest is a consequence. The loss of God is death, is forlornness, is hunger, is separation. All the tragedy of man is in one word, “Godlessness.” And he participates in our godlessness, not in the sense in which we reject God or do not know God, but in a more tragic way, in a way in which one can lose what is the dearest, the holiest, the most precious, the very heart of one’s life and soul.