Last weekend I joined some volunteers in making Palm crosses for the children’s liturgy. As we critiqued our palm-folding skills, someone pointed out the irony of wanting to perfect an instrument that was essentially a torture device.
We surround ourselves with the image of the cross – in our homes, our cars, our jewelry. We dwell on the heartbreaking Passion every time we pray the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. Why? Because through this horrific symbol of human degradation that our salvation is obtained for us – God has redeemed the world.
Jesus is getting close to His walk with the cross. As he gently washes the feet of his disciples and offers up His body, He sees us, His lambs, and accepts the cup of suffering and the wooden cross that has been set before Him.
On Good Friday we are given the opportunity to kiss the cross. My priest back home always recited, “Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.” What an intimate way to revere that simple object, made of plain wood, which helped facilitate the salvation of the world. Again we hear the Passion narrative and recall Jesus’ torture, suffering, insult, denial, stumbles, weariness, thirstiness, and death. While I normally love and embrace our participation in Mass – Good Friday is the one time that I wish I could shrink into the floor rather than say the words “Crucify Him” with the rest of us crowd-readers. I don’t want to crucify him. I don’t want Barabbas.
But I’m always reminded, as I ask God why our sins couldn’t be expiated in another way, that inseparably intertwined in the sorrow is the deepest love we will ever know. Jesus had to suffer and die for us, and in fact Archbishop Sheen writes in his book, the Life of Christ, that Jesus experienced every kind of human suffering that mankind experiences in order to fully take up our sins and offer them on the cross. That means whatever sorrow is on your heart – great or small – every pain from a relationship, from abuse, from your own mind – Jesus has experienced and longs to offer you healing.
It’s OK to cry during the Passion. It’s OK to wish it didn’t have to be (we are sorry for original sin in the world). It’s OK to feel guilty that such a price was paid for our salvation. But don’t let it be done in vain – offer your sorrows to Jesus, whose face shines gloriously even unto death on a cross – and who will always offer you His love, forgiveness, and constant companionship, especially in your most desperate times.
As we journey with Jesus on the way of the cross, I encourage you to listen to the song Via Dolorosa (“Way of Suffering”). I first heard this song on a Longhorn Awakening retreat, along with a reenactment of the passion, and trust me I needed a lot of tissues. Reflect on the price paid for your salvation on the cross. Jesus – God made man – gladly took up the cross just for you. Accept His love during these final days before Easter, and let the Savior’s love and saving grace fill you. Check out this video for the song as well as a movie clip of the walk.
Note: Reflections in this blog are my own and do not represent the positions of my employer.