Tuesday, April 8, 2014

“The cross is God's way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments.”

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God………The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

Gospel text (Jn 8:21-30): Jesus said to the Pharisees, «I am going away, and though you look for me, you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come». The Jews wondered, «Why does he say that we can't come where he is going? Will he kill him¬self?». But Jesus said, «You are from below and I am from above; you are of this world and I am not of this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. And you shall die in your sins unless you believe that I am He».

They asked him, «Who are you?»; and Jesus said, «Just what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the One who sent me is truthful and everything I learned from him, I proclaim to the world». They didn't understand that Jesus was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, «When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of my¬self, but I say just what the Father taught me. He who sent me is with me and has not left me alone; because I always do what pleases him». As Jesus spoke like this, many believed in him.

When we gaze at Jesus lifted up on the cross, we see both ourselves and Jesus more clearly.

We see ourselves as capable of mortally wounding people by our indifference, our selfishness, and our pride. We see that we can be just like Pilate as we wash our hands of responsibility for the needy. We are the soldiers mistreating the people we don’t respect. We are the mob, easily swayed by the fad or feeling of the moment, rejecting anyone who seems out of step. We are the would-be followers running away at the first sign of trouble. We are the faithful friends, helpless and disconsolate, immobilized by fear. We see how our own actions have caused the pain that Jesus is experiencing as he hangs on the cross, suffering for our sins.

But that’s not all. Gazing at the cross, we also see a God who became man because he loves us. We see Jesus looking at each of us with great tenderness and compassion. We hear him promising forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who turns to him in repentance. We see a Messiah who loves us unconditionally, who loves us enough to endure and conquer not only our sins but death itself.

Spend some time in front of a crucifix today!

Have the courage to look at whatever he reveals about yourself, but don’t stop there. Keep on gazing until you feel his love overpowering your sin and bringing you into the presence of Jesus, your brother.

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