Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Way of the Cross - 10th Station


Genesis 3: 21-24
The Lord God made tunics of skins for the man and his wife and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, ‘Now that the man has become like one of us in knowing good from evil, he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live forever.’ So the Lord God expelled him from the Garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken. He banished the man, and in front of the garden of Eden he posted the great winged creatures and the fiery flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Psalm 22.19
They divide My garments among them, and they cast lots for my clothes.

The Lord finally arrives at the spot of his crucifixion. And now he is stripped of his garments in front of everyone. Naked he stands before the eyes of the world. His body is torn and the onlookers can see the extent of the damage that has been inflicted on him so far.

Adam stood naked too; when he had sinned. God took pity on Adam and Eve and clothed them to ease their sense of shame. Here Christ stands sholder to shoulder with Adam. The New Adam has entered into solidarity with the Old Adam. Adam stood despoiled of the garments of grace; his sin had stripped him of it. His exterior nudity points to an interior despoiling of the soul. Jesus who is the source of all grace, allows himself to stand exposed, stripped of his dignity and allows himself to be taken as yet another sinful son of Adam who has followed the path of his father, the path of disobedience and sin. But he is the innocent one, it is not his own sin that has left him exposed to sin’s horrible consequences, but the sins of the whole world which are placed on his shoulders. “For our sake he made the sinless one a victim of sin, so that in him we might become the uprightness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

God clothes Adam before expelling him from the Garden as a sign that one day he will once again clothe him in the robes of righteousness before his re-entry into Paradise. To do this God allows himself to be stripped; as the final movement of that stripping away which began with the Incarnation, when he stripped himself of his glory, and became one of us, like us in all things but sin. And so great was that self-emptying, that stripping away, that he now stands on the verge of death, offering to strip himself of life itself in order to give us eternal life.

Lord we ask you to clothe those who have been despoiled of the baptismal robe of righteousness through their sins. Bring many to the sacrament of confession so that they may be restored to the state of grace and the divine friendship which is your will.

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