Reflection 2 – Easter

In the Bible, there are some really detailed accounts both in the Old and New Testaments about the Passion, Death, and even Resurrection of Jesus Christ. For example, in Psalm 22 (which was written easily over 800 years before Christ’s time on Earth), David poured out his broken heart to God, feeling he had been abandoned, but he wrapped it up with such a tremendous amount of trust and surrender to God and His will. It’s truly a beautiful chapter in a rather emotionally charged book.

Something we tend to forget is how God wants us to have hope beyond all hope. Without God, there is no hope! I once saw a bumper sticker that said, ‘Know Jesus, Know Peace. NO JESUS, NO PEACE.’ Not wrong.

There is a ‘peace that surpasses all understanding’ (Philippians 4.7) that comes with knowing Jesus and His Sacrifice for our sins. At the time of this writing (April 2019), RCIA is winding down and we’re gearing up for Easter and for Holy Saturday. As I write this, it’s the Monday of Holy Week, and yesterday during Mass, we read Luke’s account of the Passion and Death of Jesus. It’s an interactive way we do it in the Church, there’s a ‘narrator’ and then the parts where Christ spoke, those are read by our priest, and then ‘voice/crowd’ were done by the congregation. When we got to the part where it says about how they were calling for Jesus’ precious Blood, when they screamed, ‘CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!’ we had to read that part, and I felt really weak in my legs, I wanted to fall over. I remember thinking, ‘Thank You, Jesus, for loving me. Thank You, Jesus, for doing this for me. In spite of how awfully I treated You over the years, thank You. I am so sorry for this, Lord. SO INCREDIBLY SORRY. Thanks be to You, God, for this little railing in front of me so I can steady myself.’

No shame in telling you, I started crying when we got to that part. I felt physically sick. Though brief, the desire to vomit was there. I breathed through it and got it to go away, but every time, EVERY time we sin, that’s what we do, we’re in that crowd screaming for Jesus’ precious Blood. I can’t help but remember the scene on the Cross, when He’s talking to God and He’s saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing!’ and then St Dismas’ statement of rebuke to the other criminal, as they were dying on the cross, ‘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 looked at Jesus and said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ Jesus responded with, ‘You will be with Me today in paradise.’

Crucifixion was an incredibly brutal way to die. The Romans were known for their vicious cruelty, and when they came up with this method of a death penalty, I have to wonder what brought them to this place. This mindset of thinking, ‘Hey, this is a great idea to dispatch of people!’ I shudder to think the amount of excruciating pain our Blessed Lord must’ve felt when He was up there, and He did it for US. I’ve had surgeries on my hands (once on my left in my 20s, once on my right in my 30s), and that was just for a simple carpal tunnel release. When the anaesthesia wore off, oh, my, the pain! When our Blessed Lord was nailed in His precious Hands and Feet, the Romans put the nails in the nerve centres. So, in His Hands, the nails were placed right at the bases of His Palms. In His feet? Between the toes!

When He was brought upright onto the Cross, He didn’t die from exsanguination (bleeding out). He died from asphyxiation (He suffocated). The little platform where His Feet were, that was there for a couple of reasons. One, He’d have fallen off the Cross if it wasn’t. Two, when a crucified person was dying, they’d have to push themselves up to be able to breathe. In so doing, the pain that would explode from the feet would’ve sent shock waves of agony throughout their body (have you ever tried to breathe when something so painful hits you? Not possible, right?). He suffocated.

There was, recently, a documentary where a doctor (physician) was being interviewed about the Crucifixion, to explain what and how about the effects on the body when a person was killed in that manner. They examined the accounts of Jesus’ Scourging at the Pillar and the doctor had stated that no ordinary person would’ve survived that type of beating, let alone being able to get up and walk, even an inch afterward. But, as we all know, Jesus was no ordinary Person, right? There’s something tremendous about Him that we fail to remember: He was the Son of God. He was fully Divine and fully Man. Sure, we remember that He’s the Son of the Living God, but do we really stop to realize and remember and even consider the ramifications of what that even means?! I speak merely for myself when I say I admit I don’t nearly as much as I should, but I have been a lot more lately than I have in my entire life as a whole.

Jesus’ beautiful gift to us, His Crucifixion and Death in our stead, is something no one person can fully wrap their minds completely around. It is not fathomable to our finite little minds. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can honestly (and legitimately) say that they’ve got it all figured out (no one does). Not outside of the basics: Jesus came to earth, He lived 33 years, three of that was ministering and teaching, and then He was arrested, savagely tortured, made to carry His own Cross up a pretty steep mountain, nailed to it, and died from suffocation because He loves us. From the moment of Adam and Eve’s blowing it in the Garden of Eden when they partook of the fruit and thus broke Creation, all the way into the future to the last persons on earth (whomever they may be), He loves us that much. Just taking apart John 3.16 isn’t something that can be done in one sitting. There’s so much to it:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ (NRSV)

There’s absolutely no way any one person can unpack that in one sitting and say, ‘I’ve figured it out’ and be telling the truth and show their work, as it were, how they came to the conclusion that they did and it would be accurate completely. This, in and of itself, is a gift, though, if you think about it, because this keeps us reliant on God and His graces of understanding and even prayer. It keeps us curious enough to come back to Him and ask questions, and curious enough to want to keep coming back, scouring the Bible for answers, and prayerfully reflecting on what’s being said in the text. What’s more, this is the most tremendous gift we’ll ever receive this side of Heaven is the gift of His Sacrifice for us, so that Heaven was opened wide for us to be able to enter in one day and be in full communion with Him.

Just sitting here writing about this, my own thoughts and whatnot about it, it’s overwhelming to think about. There’s a really interesting painting by the Tabernacle at my parish, it’s Jesus’s Face after He was Crucified and buried. I don’t know what the painting’s called, but I just know that that’s my Jesus’ Face and I have a hard time seeing it. By the ambow, there’s a painting of Jesus on the Cross, and when I look at it, I always want to fall apart. Seeing Him that way hurts so fiercely because I know I’m partially responsible for having put Him there. In my words, my actions, my own thoughts, it’s partially my own fault He’s there, but at the same time, the flip-side of that, He’s there for me. He loves me as much as He loves everyone else He’s up there for, everyone else who’s had a hand in screaming for His precious Blood to be shed. And yet, He did this for us without a second thought, He didn’t play favourites, He was just ready and willing to do what it took to bring us to Him, where we belong.

It’s hard to fully understand the why’s and how’s and all of those things in between, but I’ll tell you: I’m sure grateful for such a tremendous Gift. It’s my prayer that anyone reading this, you take a look at the Gospels (Gospel of John’s a personal favourite). Before you begin, ask that God be on your mind, on your lips and in your heart as you open His Word. That’s not a simple book or text you’re reading, that’s a Love Letter from the Creator of the Universe, Himself. He gave that to you and it should not be treated as casually as you might one of your favourite Agatha Christie or Beth Moore books. God loves you and He is calling to you from those pages. He wants to talk with you about things, and He wants you to get to know Him, too. This isn’t a casual thing, but it’s treated as such all the time. Remember to pray before opening that book. Remember to invite Him into the conversation, otherwise you’ll be just chattering to yourself! Very boring that way. Trust that He’s there, He’s listening, and the heavens rejoice every time you pray, and there’s a thunderous celebration whenever you open your mind, heart, and life to God, who’s been clamouring for your attention this whole time!

This Easter, think about His amazing love. It’s there not as a passe’ thing, but as a legitimate gift that should be accepted with arms wide open.

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