Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gazing on the Crucified One

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Eclesalia Informativo
March 14, 2012

John 3: 14-21

John the Evangelist tells us about a strange encounter of Jesus with an important Pharisee named Nicodemus. According to the story, it's Nicodemus who takes the initiative and comes to where Jesus is "at night". He senses that Jesus is "a man who has come from God", but he moves in the darkness. Jesus will lead him to the light.

In the story, Nicodemus represents everyone who sincerely seeks to meet Jesus. Therefore, at a certain point, Nicodemus disappears from the scene and Jesus continues His speech, ending with a general invitation to no longer live in darkness, but to seek the light.

According to Jesus, the light that can illuminate everything is in the Crucified One. The statement is bold: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life." Can we see and feel God's love in this man tortured on the cross?

Accustomed since childhood to seeing the cross everywhere, we haven't learned to gaze upon the face of the Crucified One with faith and love. Our distracted glance is unable to find in that face the light which could light up our life in the hardest and most difficult moments.

Nonetheless, Jesus is sending us signs of life and love from the cross.

In those outstretched arms that can no longer embrace the children, and in those nailed hands that can't caress the lepers or bless the sick, is God with His arms open to welcome, embrace and sustain our poor lives, broken by so much suffering.

From that face dulled by death, from those eyes that can no longer look tenderly on sinners and prostitutes, from that mouth that can no longer cry out His indignation at the victims of so much abuse and injustice, God is revealing His "crazy love" for the human race.

"God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." We can welcome that God or we can reject Him. No one is forcing us. We are the ones who have to decide. But "the Light has now come into the world." Why do we so often reject the light that comes to us from the Crucified One?

He could shine a light on the most unhappy and failed life, but "he who does wicked things...does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed." When we live unworthily, we avoid the light because we feel bad in God's presence. We don't want to look at the Crucified One. On the contrary, "he who lives the truth comes to the light." He doesn't flee into the darkness. He has nothing to hide. His gaze seeks the Crucified One. He makes him live in the light.

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