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  • Writer's pictureFr. Paul MacNeil

Good Friday 2023 (April 7th)

How did people feel about Jesus?


They were curious about him. Who is this man who heals the sick, and gives sight to the blind? Could he be real? So they follow him, but from a distance. could he be real? Like many of us today, or even at certain times in our lives: They follow him, but from a distance.


They were also afraid of him. If I follow you, then think, I have to leave everything behind. Am I going to turn into a religious nut? Am I going to have to quit my job or break up with my girlfriend or boyfriend? Jesus might threaten our comfortable way of life. In the case of the earliest followers of Jesus, this was also a matter of life and death. The result of this fear is an attack. People sometimes react violently to what they fear. Back then, it meant crucifying him. Today, it means denying him, and yes, sometimes worse (there are still martyrs today).


They also denied him. "We thought you were the son of God. You were supposed to answer my prayer, to be with me until the end." The result back then: they ran. They hid. Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, perhaps running away from Jerusalem, in any case, moving in the wrong direction.


For others, Jesus meant salvation through Him. “Were not our hearts burning within us? And to those who surrender to him, feel a love and joy that the world simply cannot give, no matter what.


But I also wonder how Jesus feels about us. I'd like to share a dream that I had about a year ago. It was a dream about the crucifixion. It was just a dream, I'm not claiming any mystical experience about this, but it was a powerful dream. I don't remember all of it, but I do know that there was more than I do remember. It starts with the way of the cross. I saw, in my dream, one of the soldiers hit Jesus across the shoulders with his spear. He not only "fell" he was pushed, face first, into the ground with a loud "crack." I don't remember what happened next in my dream, but the next thing I do remember is watching the actual crucifixion. From my vantage point, I was above and slightly behind Jesus as he hung on the cross. At one point, he turned and looked up at me (I'm not even sure if this is anatomically possible) and I remember seeing that he had the most beautiful smile. I asked myself "Why on earth is he smiling? Such agony." then I heard a voice, "You don't know why I'm smiling? I'm smiling because I love you. That's why I'm doing this. Why wouldn't I be smiling? It's the greatest gift I could give you, the gift of eternal life."

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