Jesus knew that he would be crucified. He told his disciples as much a number of times in the three years they were together, though they did not want to hear it. He also knew why he would be crucified. At one level his death was plotted by the Jewish leaders conspiring with the Roman authorities. But on a deeper level, that very plot was used by God so that Jesus would die to redeem humanity from sin and from death, both physical and spiritual death. Put more simply, he died that we might have divine life in abundance, both physical and spiritual life.
But see how true love comes at so great a price! God, the origin and destiny of all that exists, God who is Love and Life itself, who took the risk of creating us free so that we could know and choose true love and life, not only loses us to sin and death, but becomes one of us to take all sin on himself and to get rid of death. Imagine the tragedy of a son or daughter who goes off the rails, ruins their life and relationships and dies in misery. What mother or father would not want to take their place so that their child’s life might be restored in happiness and love? Each of us is that son or daughter. And the Son of God is sent by the Father in the flesh to take the place of all of us so that we can be lifted up to a new life, to eternal love, to a glorious destiny.
Christ crucified reflects both our fate without God and God’s victory in overturning that fate. By assuming our fate, Christ gives us his destiny. He does not save us by diktat or by an intervention from heaven which would violate our freedom. He saves us from the inside. He destroys death by dying. He does not destroy sin by sinning, but by taking on all the destructive force and guilt of our sin and destroying it in his supreme act of love. There is no sin of quality or quantity whose weight he has not already taken to himself and destroyed by love. So, never doubt Christ’s forgiveness, or its power to release the bond of your sin, or to cleanse you from it, to lift you up from any guilt. If you doubt Christ’s ability and will to forgive you, your sin itself is deceiving you. Don’t listen to it, listen to Christ. No sin is too engrained, too shameful, too serious for the blood of Christ. Every sin is already forgiven if we would but confess it to his majestic and crucified love. No repeated fall back into sin should stop us from returning to Christ again and again, even if our weakness discourages us. All he asks is that we show we have understood what he has done for us by resolving, by trying not to sin again.
If you are in trouble, if you feel the bottom is falling out of your life, if you have sought love and meaning in things which have only stolen your heart and your dignity from you, if you just don’t know what it’s all about anymore and find your days dreary and your nights anxious, no matter who you are, what you have done, what you have lost, who you have become, do not run away from the Cross. Rather, run all the more to it. Look on the One whom you have pierced and weep for Him as for an only son; draw nearer so that he may see you and pour out his Spirit upon you; stay close in the embrace of his Mother and of John; tear open your own heart and soul and conscience and let the sacred blood and life-giving water of Jesus flood into them. There, at the foot of the Cross, you will find again your dignity, your peace, your hope. There you will hear your own name once more with joy, with no shadow of shame.
In an ancient hymn of the Church there is a line which reads, “Ave crux! Ave spes unica!” “Hail, o Cross! Hail, our only hope!” Let no one and nothing deceive you that hope and life can ultimately be found anywhere else. To no-one and nothing else will you ever be the treasure that you are for the Crucified Lord. And that you are a treasure in his sight should be no surprise. Look what price he paid to place you deeply once more in the heart of God. So, raise high the Cross! Cling to it with all your might! Let it be proudly displayed in your home, in your room and wherever else it can. The minute you sin, make the sign of the Cross, kiss the Cross, look to the Cross. For the Cross puts sin, death, devil and hell to flight and binds you swiftly again to the beloved Price of your salvation.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you! Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world!