By Rev. Dr. Laura Truax
Lectionary reading for 4/15/2022: Psalm 22; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
Selected passage for reflection: John 19:16-19
Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
I recently spent a full week reflecting on the crucifixion of Jesus. Four of five hours of every day were spent in silent contemplation of the cross. I realize how pathetic it sounds to write, It was exhausting. But grief has a way of wringing you up and tossing you down like a crumpled piece of paper. Staying with Jesus as he prayed in the garden urging his disciples to stay awake; hearing the clanging metal of armed guards in the night; recoiling from the smooth words and gentle kiss of the betrayer. The sheer physicality of Jesus’ last hours starts to sink in as you feel the weight of what is unfolding.
And what is actually unfolding? At the minimum, this is God absorbing the suffering of the world. At a time when the Roman gods prance around like impetuous children, Jesus reveals a God who draws all the sin, suffering and pain of creation into the very heart of the Divine. This is a God who chooses to embrace the very places we shun, and the people we judge and the weakness we abhor. This God will not call down angels to rescue himself from the suffering of humanity. This God feels the pain, hears the scorn, takes in the betrayal. Jesus shows us a God whose forgiveness includes everyone, those who gamble for his robe at the foot of the cross, but even his betrayer as well. For surely Judas, too, was included in his prayer of forgiveness.
This is not helpless suffering but a sharing of love. Love that says to the most forsaken that I am with you, there is no place you will go that I have not gone ahead of you. There is no label of disdain that I have not already embraced first. There is no weight of grief, no alienation you could experience that I have not already borne.
I am Emmanuel. God with you. Now and Forever. Behold your God.
Today, contemplate the crucifixion. Let yourself feel the scene as the words wash over you. Don’t try to overthink or understand it all. For today, just believe what you are experiencing.
The Anima Christi prayer has been used in Christian worship since the 14th century. It is often associated with St. Ignatius of Loyola because he used it so frequently. May this be your prayer today.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen.
About the Author
Rev. Dr. Laura Truax is a pastor, writer and speaker who has just finished spending 35 days in a silent retreat. Laura is currently serving as a spiritual director at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and as a facilitator of online meditation groups.