The Final Exam
Scientific studies of human population estimate that since 50,000 B.C.E. over 100 billion people have died! This Friday, April 18th, out of those 100 billion deaths one will be remembered worldwide—the death of Jesus of Galilee. It is also estimated each day between 150,000 to 250,000 people die, and one day we know for certain our own death shall be included in that number! That being an unavoidable reality, we should prepare for our final exam.
The Galilean Teacher taught his most important lesson as he died on the cross. Are we, his disciple-students, asleep or playing hooky whenever we see a cross? Each year we have the opportunity to learn that final lesson on the Friday of his death. Among Latin nations it is called “Holy Friday,” and by Slavic peoples, “Great Friday” and by the English or Dutch, “Good Friday.” If we have become good students of his Last Lesson then whatever day we die will truly be a good day. But excuse me for forgetting again that in our culture it is bad taste to speak of “death or dying.” So, should we rename this Friday, “The day Jesus passed”?
For so many, dying isn’t any gentle “passing” but a fierce, determined clutching onto life since the possibility of nonexistence after death is so terrifying. The Teacher’s final lesson is contained in an easily remembered two word expression, “Let go.” These two words sum up his life, teachings, spirituality and death. Giving away anything deeply valued or loved is a small death, so check the list below to see your progress as one of his students.
Let go of hated and harboring anger.
Let go of seeking revenge, even by speech.
Let go of always having to be right.
Let go of needing to be important.
Let go of irritation and impatience with others.
Let go of fear of strangers, aliens, and those different than you.
Let go of prejudices and judging others.
Let go of trying to control life, others and God.
Let go of your greatest fear of dying.
If daily we practice letting go, embracing each as a small death, then when it’s our time to die we will pass our final exam by dying gracefully. The spirituality of Galilean’s teacher is “Do not cling!” Do not clutch the moment regardless how beautiful, or anything or anyone, for in this life everything is short-lived! You have two choices: (1) you can let go of what you tightly cling to or (2) you can wait until old age, financial disaster or terminal illness rips it away from you.
From his cross Jesus taught us to just “let go,” as he did of protests of his innocence, of accusations of those who had tortured and crucified him, of denouncing his disciples for cowardly running away…and even God for “seemingly” to have abandoned him. Then, with his final breath, he let go of his life.
This Friday, April 18th, a special Easter reflection will be posted here.