Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross
+We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.
“When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. [Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’] They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, ‘He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.’ Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription that read, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’
“Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.’ The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, ‘Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:33-43
When they reached Golgotha, the place called “The Skull,” they nailed Jesus to the cross by his hands and feet. What else do we need to know about the love of God for us? That God would go so far as to send His own Son to be offered as a living sacrifice, and that the Son would go so far as to willingly lay down His life for us – what else could God do to show us His great love?
When Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22), he was willing to do so. He placed Isaac on the altar and raised his knife to give him to God, because God demanded it of him, and Abraham was faithful. But, God stayed Abraham’s hand. Having proved himself faithful, God spared Abraham the sacrifice of his son. God did not spare Himself the sacrifice He spared Abraham!
Nailed to the cross, Jesus looked down upon those who had crucified Him and asked that the Father forgive them. They didn’t realize what they were doing, He said. Now, what could someone do to us that was so bad that we would withhold forgiveness? Even as He hung on the cross, they mocked Him and ridiculed Him. If God Himself is willing to forgive the killing of His own Son, and the Son Himself willing to forgive those who killed Him, what is it that others have done to us that merits our holding on to our anger or our bitterness, and demanding that God punish them without mercy? Forgiveness not only frees others who have hurt us from the consequences of their actions. It also frees us from the anger and bitterness that kills our hearts and souls. Forgive!
Faith is everywhere. Even at the crucifixion, Jesus encounters the faith of the good thief. Tradition gives him the name Dismas, and he is counted among the saints. Jesus Himself promised him salvation for the faith he showed, even as he hung on the cross next to Jesus. Imagine getting to ask Jesus Himself for salvation! But that is what we all do when we turn to Him in prayer, especially at the Mass. We receive Jesus in the Eucharist. We take Him into ourselves. In doing so we, like the good thief, beg Jesus to remember us. His promise is that He will remember us. The promise He gave to Dismas is extended to us at every sacrifice of the Mass. “Do this is remembrance of me,” Jesus commanded. When we remember Him, He promises to remember us, and to bring us to the Kingdom, to Paradise.
Father, Jesus forgave those who killed Him, Whom You loved. How can we not forgive those who hurt us, or who even kill us or those we love? Forgiveness sets us free. Give us the grace to forgive, for it is only by Your grace that we could ever hope to accomplish such. Inspire us at every Mass to offer ourselves to You, to remember Jesus and so place our hope in His promise to remember us. Amen.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.