Today is the day we remember the greatest act of love ever shown. It is the day we remember the ridicule, torture, and execution of the man we love above all others. Today is the day our Jesus endured physical and spiritual agony so that we might see Him again. Do you remember Mel Gibson’s, “The Passion of The Christ?” I remember thinking this movie was so heart wrenching because for the first time, I saw Jesus as a real person. I saw the look in Jim Caviezel’s eyes as he was being beaten. I saw the look on Maia Morgenstern’s face as she watched her son killed. I hid my eyes from much of the movie, unable to watch.
Can you think for a minute about someone you love deeply? Picture their face. Look at them from across the room for if they are in your home. Now imagine standing next to them as lies are told about them, as they are mocked and made fun of and humiliated. Stay with the image of the person you love as someone beats them and tears the skin from their back, tortures them for hours on end until finally someone drives nails into their flesh.
Y’all, this wasn’t a man with any immunity to pain. This was a human person, just like the spouse or friend or nephew or son you just imagined. This was your baby boy, mustering the courage to endure pure hell, a pain none of us will ever know, so that you and I can have eternal life. The first reading from Isaiah tells us “it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured… he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins.” FOR OUR SINS. WE PUT HIM THERE. You and I put him there.
Hopefully we have all had a chance to go to Confession this Lent. It is each sin that we committed that drove those nails into his hands and feet. If you knew that yelling at your spouse or holding onto anger toward a family member or lying or stealing or any of your sins would put a nail into YOUR child’s hands, would you continue the sin? If your sexual sin or pride or envy caused someone to beat YOUR father with a whip, would you not be all the more committed to confessing and finding healing from that sin?
Today is a solemn day. In a few days we will rejoice in the hope that the resurrection brings but today, let us humbly think of the sins that put our Lord on that cross. Let us resolve to go to Confession more often, to examine our consciences more regularly. As we become more aware of our part in the crucifixion of Jesus, we will be awestruck at how much he loves us. We will see Him as a person, like the loved one we thought of earlier. We will be overcome with gratitude and joy that He should die, for us.