This is the first Commandment, Jesus said:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
We should expect to hear about love on a lenten friday. Believers recall the passion of Jesus on all the fridays of the year, but the lenten fridays are special days to prepare for the Friday called Good. That was a day that challenged the love Jesus had for us and for our world. We saw God’s wonderous love for us in him.
On that day Jesus fulfilled the great commandment he preached to others in a striking way. Historians, scholars, artists approach the mystery of his passion and death and resurrection of Jesus from many perspectives. The gospels and Christian tradition dwell on the mystery in great detail. It is a fascinating conclusion to a fascinating life.
Jesus could have experienced just humanity’s joys and creation’s beauty when he became flesh, leaving aside the sorrow that burdens humanity and creation. He could have loved us at our best. But when he became human he “bore our sorrows.” He bore our sorrows from his birth till he embraced the mystery of death on a cross. It was love he obeyed. “He was obedient unto death.”
Why did Jesus suffer such a death? A question only answered by recognizing it as fulfilling the command of love. The cross was not something Jesus endured; an absurd mystery before which he shut his eyes and to which he had no response. He embraced it with his whole heart, his whole mind and all his strength as his Father’s will. At his cross, we stand before Love.