A week today at 3pm we will solemnly commemorate the final hours of our Lord's Passion. A part of the Liturgy of Good Friday includes what are called the Improperia, or the Reproaches. In some Churches they are called "The Solemn Adoration of Christ Crucified." The refrain is the voice of Christ, speaking to us from the cross:
My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!
S Francis of Assisi wrote to his friars: "it is you who have crucified Christ and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins." (Admonitio 5.3) The reproaches are Christ, on the Cross, asking us: "Why?"
What more could I have done for you?
I raised you to the height of majesty,
but you have raised me high on a cross.
On Good Friday the Church will be stripped bare of everything, and so will we be: none of the pious platitudes, none of the consoling of ourselves that we are "doing our best," enough of our good intentions. It's all stripped away. The fact is that our lives are so much defined by our sins, and (as in yesterday's poem), we often find the abyss between ourselves and God quite "sweet." Stripped of our sins, what would we even look like? Maria Melendez Kelson dares to think.
The final two stanzas represent the moment when, despite our wretched condition, we come forward and kiss the feet of the Crucified. We recognise that his death (for us, and by us) is our only hope of immortality.
By Maria Melendez Kelson
Jesus, I want my sins back.
My prattle, pride, and private prices --
climbing, clinching, clocking --
I might loan you a few for the evening,
so you don’t show up at your own crucifixion
naked of all purpose.
But for God’s sake, don’t spill any
redemption on them! They’re my
signature looks. Body by Envy.
Make up & wardrobe provided by Avarice. Lord,
if you take away my inordinate cravings,
what the hell’s left? Do you know
how much I paid for my best rages?
I want them all back if they’re
so To Die For. Else shred my palms,
wash my face with spit, let the whip
unlace my flesh and free the naked blood,
let me be tumbled to immortality
with the stew of flood debris
that is my life.