Good Friday: Darkness Within, Darkness Without

There are no words by which I should presume to bring anything more than a mediocre reflection upon the death of Our Lord. Therefore for the last post in this Holy Week series, I shall say little and allow St. Matthew to say more. I also reproduce a favorite painting of the Crucifixion (though my absolute favorite is that by Velázquez in The Prado) by the great Spanish master Zurbarán. It sits at the top of a staircase in the Art Institute of Chicago, where it always made a powerful impression on me when I went to see it, like a window through time to 3:00 PM on Golgotha. After all the darkness of hatred, sin and abuse pours out from within those mocking Him and joins with the darkness of the skies around them, Zurbarán gives us the moment when the Light goes out of the world – until Sunday, of course.

Those passing by reviled Him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!”

Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked Him and said, “He saved others; He cannot save himself. So He is the king of Israel!? Let Him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He wants Him. For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”

The revolutionaries who were crucified with him also kept abusing Him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”, which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “This One is calling for Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to Him to drink. But the rest said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save Him.”

But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up His spirit.
St. Matthew 27:39-50

The Crucifixion by Francisco de Zurbarán (1627)
Art Institute of Chicago


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