1. THE CROSS WITH CHRIST, MAXIMUM EXPRESSION OF SIN AND LOVE
"May the Passion of Christ be always in our hearts"
What do I see when I first gaze on the Cross? I see something similar to looking at both sides of a coin.
The first thing I see is the horrible reality of sin discharged against the Son of God. Sin is a mystery and this mystery reaches its greatest manifestation when it lashes out at the Son of God, which leads to His death.
IS THERE THEN A GREATER SIN THAN
TO CONDEMN THE SON OF GOD TO DEATH?
The backdrop of this reference of Jesus is found in Numbers:
The people complained against God and
Moses, "Why have you brought us up from
So the Lord sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of the Israelites died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the Lord and you. Pray to the Lord to take the serpents from us. So Moses prayed for the people, and the Lord said to Moses: Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover. Accordingly Moses made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever the serpent bit someone, the person looked at the bronze serpent and recovered.
The serpent knows where the cracks are to go into; in the same way, the Evil One knows where our weakest areas are in our life to tempt us and inject his fatal venom into our soul if we are caught off guard. Also it is known that serpents can hypnotize its victims. But the Lord comes to our rescue shocking us out of our hypnotic trance into the reality of the nature of sin and its tragic consequence for our life when it is expressed on the cross in all its ugly reality.
The rebuttals, the mockery, the scorning, the spitting, the scourging, the crown of thorns, the ripping off of his garments exposing his naked body, the nailing of the hands and feet to the cross, the piercing of His side….all have something to say about sins committed by humanity. Ultimately, condemning Christ, the Son of God, is the rejection of God to be present in our life, who wants to carry on completing us through his creative work, shaping us into being what we are called to be in all its fullness and plenitude. It also leads people to mock, persecute, slander and condemn even to death, those who try faithfully to follow Him. It's rejecting the "7th" Day in our life, the number symbolizing perfection for the Hebrews that completes us as truly human beings, when God rests in the depth of our being, as expressed in the book of Genesis:
On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3)
The human being is actually incomplete without the presence of God to carry on His creative work. Without that presence, our growth is stunted…we remain in the "6th" Day when we can turn in on ourselves and allow all evil in us to take over. It's when human beings try to take the place of God and decide for themselves what is good and what is evil, independent to what God has designed for human beings. Ultimately it is the sin of pride that was the downfall of our first ancestors and which remains in the origin of all sin, as it relies on the belief that we know better than God what can bring us happiness.
Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He asked the woman, "Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’ ” But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6)
The maximum expression of this evil is expressed in symbolic meaning of "666" attributed to the Antichrist. The stress on the "6" three times, signifies not just evil, but evil in its greatest expression. As expressed in the Book of Revelation:
Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six". (Revelation 13:18)
Now, when I gaze on Christ, the Son of God, more closely, the expression on His face and the words he utters, say so much to me:
Ø His words of compassion and forgiveness to those who don't know what they are doing when he says on the Cross: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
Ø His thirst for our salvation, which St. Mother Teresa reminds us of when Jesus says while on the Cross: “I thirst.” (cfr. John 19:28)
The love exuding
from Him, as He embraces the good thief and welcomes him to heaven when he says
to him: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in
Ø The sharing of His mother with us when he says to her "Woman, behold, your son." And then to John, "Behold, your mother"
All these instances express the maximum expression of God's Love for us.
COULD THERE BE A GREATER LOVE THAN THIS, WHEN THE SON OF GOD ACCEPTS TO SUFFER AND DIE FOR US FOR OUR SALVATION?
Wow! Here we see the maximum expression of SIN and the maximum expression of LOVE centered in the Son of God hanging on the cross. What incredible power to lead us to Salvation! Yes, this has the power to shake us up into the reality of sin; it is capable of leading us ever so deeper in to the reality of its malice and destruction. At the same time, it has the power, also, for us to feel befriended by a God, who loved us so much, as the one who leads us into new life. Conversion, Passover, Salvation…. These are "the two sides of the 'coin'."