Thursday, April 1, 2010

What's God doing on a cross?

by Fr. José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)


According to the Gospel story, those who passed in front of Jesus crucified on the hill of Golgotha mocked Him and, laughing at His impotence, said to Him, "If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." Jesus does not respond to the provocation. His response is a silence full of mystery. Precisely because He is God's Son, He will remain on the cross until His death.

The questions are inevitable: How is it possible to believe in a God crucified by men? Do we realize what we are saying? What is God doing on a cross? How can a religion founded on such an absurd conception of God survive?

A "crucified God" is a revolution and a scandal that forces us to question all the ideas that we humans have about a God who we supposedly know. The Crucified One has no face or features that religions attribute to the Supreme Being.

The "crucified God" is not an omnipotent and majestic being, unchanging and happy, oblivious to the suffering of humans, but a helpless and humbled God who suffers pain, anguish and even death with us. With the Cross, either our faith in God ends, or we open to a startling new understanding of a God who, embodying our suffering, loves us incredibly.

Before the Crucified One, we begin to sense that God, in His last mystery, is someone who suffers with us. Our misery affects Him. Our suffering splatters on Him. This is not a God whose life goes by, so to speak, on the margin of our sorrows, tears and misery. He is in all the Calvaries of our world.

This "crucified God" does not allow for a frivolous and selfish faith in an omnipotent God to serve our whims and demands. This God makes us look toward the suffering, the abandonment and helplessness of so many victims of injustice and misfortune. We meet this God when we come near to the suffering of any crucified one.

We Christians continue to take all sorts of detours to not run into the "crucified God". We have even learned to lift our eyes towards the Cross of the Lord, diverting them from the crucified ones who are before our eyes. However, the most authentic way to celebrate the Lord's passion is to revive our compassion. Without this, our faith in the "crucified God" is diluted and the door to all sorts of manipulations is opened. May the kiss we give to the Crucified One always turn our gaze towards those near or far from us who live in suffering.

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