Aloha Friday Message – April 4, 2015 – Good Friday

1513AFC040315 – Into Your Hands

Read it online here, please.

Aloha kakahiaka, ʻŌmea! Good morning, Beloved! Today is Good Friday. I hope you will make time to go to church today. If not, I hope you will reflect on the events of this day nearly 2000 years ago. Here are a few insights to help you with that reflection. First, here are the scripture passages we will be using:

Psalm 31:5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

Matthew 27:50-5150 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Mark 15:37-3837 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Luke 23:44-46 44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

We are finishing up a series on The Seven Last Words of Christ. Let’s start with the passage from Psalm 31. In this Psalm, David shows he is in fear for his life. His enemies are plotting ways to kill him. All the people he thought he could rely on have abandoned him at best, and joined his enemies at worst. He turns to the Lord for protection, and expresses unwavering confidence in God’s loving kindness and powerful protection. Then he restates his confidence in God and, in heartfelt praise, recounts blessings he has received and expects still to receive. At verse 5, he places his very life – the spiritual mark of God in his soul – in God’s protecting hand to receive or restore as God wills.

In the March 13 post, 1511AFC031315 – Recitation, we looked at the way Jesus quoted from Psalm 22. Here again he quotes a Psalm, knowing that whoever hears him – or hears about what he said – will know the reference and context of the crucifixion. Jesus, who is also surrounded by enemies and deserted by friends, echoes David’s declaration of confidence in God’s authority and unconditional Love to receive or restore Jesus’ spirit – his human life –  as God wills. In this final word, Jesus marks the completion of his role in Salvation by returning his human life to God. Jesus’ human life is over. But that, of course, is not the end of the story! We know that Resurrection Sunday is just hours away, but the disciples did not understand that was the emerging reality. Surely the members of the Sanhedrin that had condemned him did not know, nor did anyone in the Roman Occupation Government know. God knew, and Jesus knew, and for that day – which we call Good Friday – that was enough.

And yet, there was another clue about what had just happened as Jesus turned his life over to his Father: That thing with the Temple Veil that all three writers mention. Let’s look back a few years to 1202AFC011312 – Sh’khinah Glory for you. Here is a short quote from that post:

The Temple architecture was based on the Tent of Meeting originally established during Moses’ leadership of Israel. We learned that there is inside of us a Holy of Holies, a tabernacle, a place for God to dwell within us, to rest with us on a throne which we provide. We also learned that access to that resting place is no longer barricaded to keep us out. In Solomon’s Temple there were three curtains or “”veils.” The first was the entrance to the Outer Court. That veil was called The Way. The second veil led to The Holy Place where the objects used in the sacred worship of God were stored. The veil to that area was called The Truth. The final veil was the heaviest and most sacred because it led to the Holy of Holies, the place where God was present among His people enthroned on the Cherubim of the Ark of the Covenant. That veil was called The Life. The next logical step is to understand that is the source of Jesus’ reference to Himself as The Way, the Truth, and The Life. And we also recall that at the moment of His death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

Jesus, Emanuel – God With Us – took down the barriers so that God can dwell in every heart through every time and place. If we think about the historical facts we know about that veil called, The Life, we can get some insights into Paul’s understanding of the significance of this event as he explained it in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 9. Herod Antipas, the Roman-backed “ruler” of Israel, had done some remodeling for the temple and had increased the height of the temple to about 60 cubits high (around 90 feet) 16 cubits wide (about 24 feet) and about 4 inches thick – the width of a man’s palm. It was made of dyed linen cords of purple, blue, and red, and embroidered with Cherubim.

As you can see, that was a very formidable piece of cloth! Seeing it torn in two from top to bottom must have been mind-blowing. Here are some other thoughts about this that I came across recently.

First, I hope you will take some time to look at Paul’s explanation of Jesus’ Priesthood in Hebrews 6:17-10:39. There are a lot of details there you should explore, study, and understand. In particular, I want to look at something St. Paul said about the tearing of the veil (curtain) in Hebrews 10:20 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), where the tearing of the veil which opens up the Holy of Holies to that God is exposed to us is likened to the tearing of Jesus’ flesh by which we have access to his Spirit – a new and living way. Jesus’ sacrifice – once for all – opened the entrance to the Truest of the Holy of Holies, the Presence of God. Here is something I learned from Michelle Arnold. Michelle Arnold is a staff apologist at Catholic Answers. You can visit her personal blog or contact her online through Facebook.  In a post on April 1, 2015 called The Ripping of the Veil, Michelle pointed out that the tearing of clothing was and is part of a Jewish ritual for expressing grief by tearing one’s clothes, preferably whatever is covering the upper body covering the heart. She continues her comments by pointing out that “small details matter.” Indeed, it is important to understand why all three Gospel writers made a point of mentioning the tearing of the veil in the temple. If we further understand that something twenty-four feet tall and four inches thick was torn “from top to bottom,” then we can begin to grasp what an impact this would have had on the Jewish communities to which Matthew and Mark were writing. Luke, most likely not Jewish, only mentions that it was torn, but still includes it as part of the history of that moment when Jesus turned his human life over to God.

This last statement by Jesus on the Cross at the moment of his death is recorded only in the Synoptic Gospel of Luke. In Matthew and Mark, there is a description of the temple veil being “torn in two, from top to bottom.” Luke only mentions that it was torn in two. For me, the significant small detail that I most identify with is the prayer David originated – Into your hand I commit my spirit. It forms the basis of my “going to sleep prayer.” As I prepare to take my nightly rest, I pray, “Father, I put my life in your hands. Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit.” There are other prayers that follow – an evening offering of my day’s activities – like maybe an Act of Contrition, intercessory prayers for or from the Moon Beam Network – but pretty much every night, it’s this prayer of surrender to my Father that gets things going. It sort of “harks back” to the Children’s prayer many of us learned.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake
I ask the Lord my soul to take

But if by Grace I pass the night
I pray tomorrow that I might
Walk beside you all the day
And show your Love in every way

I want to close with thanking you for praying with us as intercessors. Here are just a few of the things your praying affected (and effected!)

  • Rapidly advancing recovery for NJ after this very bright young lady had a stroke.
  • Continued remission of cancer for CW and FO.
  • A return to the Lord for TO and MC.
  • Addiction recoveries for at least half-a-dozen persons. (Praise GOD!!)
  • Healing for MANY others.
  • Successful missions for BC and the safe and healthy birth of another daughter.
  • The receiving of the Sacraments for five really great kids this coming Easter Vigil.
  • A remarkable conversion of a remarkable man, SW, and his astonishing growth in Faith.
  • Sufficient financial security that Crucita and I can stay here where God needs us.
  • The Moon Beam Network.

Go to church. Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow! Be joyful! The Lord is coming to you this Sunday. Honor him with your presence. Give him your spirit. Open the veil around your heat and let him in. The Lord is with you!

Quotes and links from Michelle Arnold used by permission from the author.

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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