Thursday, April 17, 2014

REPROACHES of THE PASSION #12: You Hung Me on the Cross

O my people, What Have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me.

With great power I lifted you up, but you have hung me on the Cross

This complaint is the summary of what God did for His Chosen People: He exalted them in the sight of other nations. He built them up from a no people to a great nation. He established them as a kingdom and they reward for that was the Passion of the Messiah. When He sent them the long awaited Messiah, they crucified Him. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself,” Jesus says in John 12:32. To this prophetic declaration, the crowds respond with “Who is this Son of Man?” (John 12:34). That is the eternal question which remains as new today as it was 2000 years ago among the Jewish people.

Which identity of Jesus do I like? I am ready to accept the infant Jesus, the miracle Worker, or the transfigured Jesus. But how do I relate to the Crucified Jesus? How could the Christ suffer and die? It was the baffling question among the Jews and even Jesus’ disciples. It remains the mystery to us as well. That is why we call the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus “The Paschal Mystery.” Jesus will forever be the Crucified Lord. The Cross is the best explanation of what Jesus was all about. Jesus chose to embrace the Cross, so this complaint is more about where we are in relation to Jesus, than where Jesus is on the Cross.

From His Cross, the Savior says to us: You hung Me up there on the Cross, but you are still on the earth below; All I ever wanted was to exalt you, so that you would be where I am; I want you with Me, because you are the reason I embraced the Cross. Where I am there My servant will be also. By My death on that Cross, I have exalted you up too; I have won for you an eternal place in the house of My Father. I have lifted you up and set you apart; I have consecrated you to Myself, so that where I am you also may be. Therefore, take up your cross and follow Me. And remember, whenever you crucify yourself for My sake, I will be right there with you on the Cross.

O My People, What Have I Done to You? How Have I Offended You? Answer Me

Because I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom, you led your Savior to the Cross.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

REPROACHES of THE PASSION Set 7: You Gave Me a Crown of Thorns

O my people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer Me. 

For you I struck down the kings of Canaan; you have struck My head with a reed.
I gave you a royal scepter; you have given Me a crown of thorns.

“We have no king but Ceasar!” was the cry of the bloodthirsty crowd on that Good Friday. That was definitely a lie, because they hated the Romans, hated being under the dominion of Ceasar, and they could not wait for the Messiah to come soon enough to liberate them from the Roman rule. By this cry, they were rejecting God as their King, they were rejecting their place as the Chosen People. Recall in 1 Samuel, the people asked for a king so that they could be like the other nations around them, and while Samuel was distressed, God assured him that it was not Samuel they had rejected but God Himself as their King.

God established the Kings in Israel. He established them as a sovereign nation having an exclusive relationship with God as their King. He gave them a royal scepter, both as a historical symbol of power and the spiritual symbol of the Messianic reign. Just as to them, God has given us a royal scepter: a free intellect and free will. Unfortunately, we have taken the scepter and turned it into an instrument of destroying the Kingdom of God. We have turned our royal scepter into a reed with which to strike the head of Christ.

Forming a crown of thorns is not an easy feat. It took skill and thought to twist those thorns right. It was meant to hurt, especially considering the thorns were pressed onto the head of Christ. That was not an accidental thought. Let us think of all our willful, premeditated wrongdoings and sins. They are thorns piercing the Sacred Head of Jesus. Let us consider times we have encouraged others to sin; moments we have refrained from doing the right thing due to fear; moments we have flattered others instead of helping them by telling them the truth; moments we have been bad influence on others. At all those moments, we have offered a crown of thorns to Christ. 

A crown of thorns and striking the Lord on the head  with a reed were all acts of mockery, meant to hurt and humiliate Him. Think of how Christians are persecuted because of their faith; think of instances when the civil state dictates what the Church can or cannot do. Those are thorns pressed into the head of Jesus. From the Cross, the Savior asks us to remember His pain and humiliation.