Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery ~ Jesus is Crucified



This arresting image is titled The Martyrdom of Jesus of Nazareth. It was painted by the 19th century French painter Aime Moret. It is so different from the stereotypical crucifix we know, many of us will say, I've never seen anything like it before. Jesus is looking up instead of down. His  feet are nailed to the sides of the cross instead of being placed one over the another on a little slanted platform. Pilate's condemnation sign is beneath instead of over Jesus' head. Jesus is not only nailed to the cross but tied. Jesus is as naked as we dare, and his left arm is dislocated. We shouldn't get lost in any of this, as if in a debate, but rather in silence simply contemplate Jesus put on a great sorrowful exhibition.

The crucifixion of Jesus is a great mystery. And how strange it is that the central image of our faith is a crucified man. Some Christians say Jesus is risen and shouldn't be shown on the cross. Of course Jesus is risen and has vanquished death, but the crucifix says, "Look at what the world's sin has done." The crucifix matters.

And this crucifix in particular is a kind of sign post for our weary world. In Jesus crucified God is stretched in every direction to discover us in love.  God is stretched into the farthest reaches of our minds and our personal stories. God has  stretched himself into the past of human history, full of obstacles and barriers, and into the future. God stretches down into the depths of our mistakes and to the heights of our consciousness: our worst and best thoughts. God has stretched to left and right where we find each other.



Our Father, Who art in heaven...

The title at the bottom of the cross, Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews, summarized the official charge against Jesus. Written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, it could have been read by the whole world gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover. Little did Pilate know that he was making an act of faith. Jesus is King for the whole world.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Jesus was born to reign as King of my heart. His knowledge, his truth, his love far surpass my own. It is said that there will never be a man so known and loved throughout the world as Jesus. I want to be part of that loving.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

All of the apostles except John abandon Jesus now and have gone away. But good women-friends stay with Jesus as he dies on the cross. Undoubtedly their presence consoled him. Pope John Paul II called women, Sentinels of the Invisible.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

At the start, Mary said yes to the angel of the Annunciation. Now she stands beneath the cross of Jesus. She stands! It is the posture of strength and readiness.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

From the cross, Jesus gives Mary to the care of John. He tells John to take Mary as his own mother. But the ideas of Jesus are never small; he intends that I find in Mary the place of mother-nurturing love too and that I take up my own place in God's new family.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

In The Passion of the Christ, Mary approaches and kisses the crucified feet of Jesus, her son. She is an associate in his sacrifice of love. Mary-like, I must step up to what needs to be done, though it will require the suffering of love.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

On the cross, Jesus cries out that he is thirsty. He is dehydrated surely, but he is all the more thirsty for my love. I must be silent now for a moment and hold this thought before offering the prayer.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Jesus appears to have lost the battle; his body is mangled. There is no one to cheer for a victory. All the teaching about a kingdom seems to be failed. But there will be a Resurrection-Victory won by obedience. This is very hard for people to understand today: obedience to God.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The Passover lambs, remembering the Exodus, were being sacrificed while Jesus suffered on the cross. Now there is a new heart-to-heart understanding between God and us. It is sealed, not in animal blood, but the Blood of Christ's own self-gift - a gift that is like the bleeding of a mother when giving birth to her child.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The soldier wants to be sure that Jesus is dead. He pushes a spear into the side of Jesus, and blood and water pour out. The Church is born with these new streams of Baptism and Eucharist. Look how far God will go to enliven, cleanse, restore and nourish us!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Glory be to the Father...



Lavender ~ Mary's Drying Plant


1 comment:

  1. This image certainly reminds us of the suffering Christ endured for us. Thank you for sharing it. Some might say it is too gruesome, but it allows the reality to sink in.

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