Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Cross and the Sins of the World


“I, when I am lifted up will draw all men to myself.”

With three powerful blows the first nail tears through Christ’s flesh and lodges itself in the wood of the Cross. Then follows the second, then the third; each with ruthless efficiency. The executioners couldn’t see that this was a defining moment for mankind – deicide, the murder of God. Had they known the importance of what they were doing at that moment then they would have known that such a moment demanded solemnity, time, ritual and they would have carried out each movement in this tragic turn of events with greater attention, with greater care allowing each atrocious wound the time and space to speak for itself. But they are completely ignorant of all this – they do not know what they are doing. Here is a criminal to be disposed of in the usual way. What they must do they do quickly and in a moment the Saviour of the world is lifted up and the full horror of a world gone mad is displayed for all to see.

The first wave of human sin is passed, but there comes another and yet another in a relentless onslaught crashing on the shores of that Divine Heart. Each wave foams with the sins of every human being of every generation. Every injustice, every lust, every infidelity, every angry word, every violent action, every gun fired, every bomb dropped, every life taken, every conceivable evil that ever was or will be flood his soul. Each presents itself to the eyes of Christ as one huge tsunami following another – a tidal wave of rejection that roars ‘no’ to the Father. Hanging on the cross the sins of the world wash over him, invade him and cause him the most unbearable suffering. He has asked for this, he has desired that it be this way because this is his Father’s will. And as each sin falls upon his head and his grief increases he utters no word of condemnation, no judgement. Silently he bears it all. No sin will every force him to say ‘enough – I will have no more, away with this cross!’

Amid all these thunderous waves there are small waves too. These waves do not crash violently over him, but timidly, humbly exhausting themselves at his feet. These are the waves of the Magdalenes of this world whose sins are not hurled at the Saviour, rather they are laid at the foot of his cross. They may be waves of sin – perhaps waves of the greatest possible sins, but they are waves which foam with repentance. These sins do cause him to suffer but as bitter as they are for him to swallow they leave a sweet taste as he gazes upon another soul saved for the Kingdom. While so many sinners would use their sins to crucify him – these sinners would have them crucified with him.

As he hangs there suspended between heaven and earth all of human sin flows to him. His open arms are an invitation to human wickedness and a sign of his vulnerability. And the sin which has perverted the human heart will flow ferociously out against him. All the depravity which the human heart is capable of will flow into his heart. The river of sin seems endless, how is it possible that one man could embrace it all. But that river of sin flows into the endless ocean of merciful love that has gathered in his Divine Heart. Sin will exhaust itself as it rages against love. The more it raises its voice to scream ‘no’ the more the Saviour will quietly repeat his ‘yes’. And as the fresh water of a river flowing into the sea becomes lost in the salty deeps so the foulness of our most vile sins disappears when it is conquered by infinite love. Our sins fall upon him and his blood falls upon us. The full measure of our sins draws forth the full measure of his life’s-blood. From our wounds flow waves of death and destruction - the foul-smelling rot of sin. From his wounds flow waves of the cleansing blood of the Lamb without blemish, the medicinal water that flows from the tree of life, from the side of the temple which is his body; the sweet-smelling ‘yes’ offered to the Father from a truly human heart – the heart of his Divine Son.

With each breath he takes the aroma of sin and death fill his soul so that the author of life itself, moves ever closer to death. And when the last wave of the last sin ever to be committed breaks upon the shore of his suffering and he breathes deeply the stench of that sin too, he lowers his head in death, breathing out the Holy Spirit over those raging waters. “Quiet now, be still.” “Behold I make all things new.” “It is accomplished.

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