Close to the Cross

A Reflection by Gary Jansen

The passage of the Bible featured in today’s retreat has always puzzled me. We know Jesus is the Son of God. We are all post-Resurrection children. We have two thousand years of Christian history and faith to help us to know such a thing. But how did this centurion know? Just before Jesus dies, we know “darkness came over the whole land” and our Savior lets out a loud cry. Were clouds and the sound of Jesus' voice enough to convert the soldier?

We are often told pay attention for that still, small voice. We are told that God often talks to us in a whisper. Yes, but we also need to pay attention to God’s loud cries that come from those around us. Sudden outbursts are disturbing but they get our attention. If a loved one cries out in pain most of us would run to that person’s side. But what about the stranger? I work in New York City and every once in a while when I’m walking outside the office a homeless person or someone who seems mentally unstable will be yelling. Sometimes at people. Sometimes at no one. Most of us do our best to ignore this person. And maybe that’s why the cry is so loud. Some people, unfortunately, have been ignored their whole lives. As humans we can only take so much isolation and rejection before we crack. Every homeless person, every mentally sick person was a baby at one time. Probably everyone one of these people smiled at some point and ran around as children and cried when they fell. Maybe in time no one was there to pick them up and tell them, “It’s okay. Ask, Seek, Knock. I’m here for you. Ask, Seek, Knock.”

Maybe Jesus felt so alone, so isolated, so ignored by the world that his loud cry fell on the one set of ears who was listening. Maybe God through Jesus was telling us that our behavior and the way we treat others has left him feeling alone, isolated, and ignored. Jesus’ cry then isn't just a personal cry of how much pain he was suffering but a cosmic cry for the pain and suffering we level against each other.

We need to pay attention to the thunder as much as seek the whisper.

 Gary Jansen

Gary Jansen

Gary Jansen is senior editor of religion and spirituality at the Crown Publishing Group at Penguin Random House.

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