Sacred heart of Jesus, I will type fast. Stand straight and arms outstretched. Look for that intersection where horizontal crosses the vertical, the arms and the torso. It’s where the heart resides. The intersection between the vertical beam of the cross, and the horizontal. “X” marks the spot, there rests a heart. The Sacred Heart of Jesus. The standing, the vertical points to God, His mission to restore the relationship between God and man. Love. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. The horizontal, peace among man. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Between those is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. God’s heart, Gods love. God becomes man. Becomes man out of love. L-O-V-E. The agony of the garden, and the agony of the cross, all in His love. It’s His message and His Heart. The rescue of the lost sheep, giving sight to the blind, the healing of the sick and the binding of wounds. Love. God’s mercy, the forgiveness of sins. Love, Gods love. The love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The heart of Jesus, a passionate heart and a merciful one. The Passion of Christ out of love for us, His mercy for the same. Pope Francis tells his priests “Smell the sheep.” That’s precisely what the Christ did when He became man. In persona Christi, he says. That God reached into the thickets, through the thorns to grab that sheep. The lost sheep. The devotion of the shepherd. Smell the sheep, that’s what He did. His Heart for ours, the price of redemption. The paschal lamb, the sacrifice of love. The Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart, taught us to love God, as God loves man.
Good Friday isn’t a day I will say much about, it is the beginning of a great contemplative silence. It leaves one speechless, exhausted, and on ones knees. A very powerful day indeed. Today at the stations of the cross a collection was taken up for the holy lands. Its a tradition. This year those same lands have dominated the press. The announcement of this collection took on a bit more relevance. The violence of contemporary today can be viewed in the light of the day today commemorates. Certainly there is the Christian persecution that is the object of so many prayers and petitions. Today it seems thoughts drifted into another direction, to all of the residents of that troubled land. I thought of Christians persecuted for their faith, and the Jews who experience the same. I also thought of the Muslims who did not subscribe to their fundamentalist brethren’s agenda. Those that quietly live out their faith in harmony with other faith traditions. I view their mockery, and scourging even though an evil word never passed through their lips or entered their hearts. I think of their suffering and anguish and tears for a hatred they never possessed. They have suffered the bombs, they fled as refugees , and they were ridiculed for the opinions of others that look and dress like them. A prayer for people while contemplating a cross and crucifixion. A prayer for the people of the lands where that sacred cross once stood.
The day of atonement is that day on the cross, that sacrifice for our sins and for our salvation. How ironic it is that a symbol of the cruelest form of punishment is transformed into a tool of salvation. An instrument that was promoted as an instrument of terror becomes a sign of G-d’s love for man. Whenever I hear that phrase exaltation of the Cross, that irony is always the first emotion to strike. Death on a cross is unimaginable pain and a horrid indignity. Then though I remember that the suffering was defeated as was that indignity. What was raised for terror became an emblem for salvation, and stood raised in triumph. It is difficult to celebrate a victory without knowing the battle, yet when one looks at that battle that took place on that tree and realizes what was done for me; that Cross is truly raised in triumph. It is reconciliation to G-d, the atonement of my sins, and my liberation. I can see the pain, the suffering, the indignity, and the evil. I then can see the reconciliation, and love, and salvation. I can see both the good and the evil, yet in the end it is the supreme good that triumphs. The triumph of the Cross, the exaltation of that Cross. Atonement and Salvation.
Saint Helena, mother of fourth century Roman Emperor Constantine, travelled to Jerusalem to search out the holy places of Jesus’s life. On her journeys she located the Saviors tomb, which was beneath Temple of Aphrodite, and had the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher built over the tomb. During the excavation workers located the three crosses. According to the Legend, the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman. That is a much abbreviated explanation of the feast day: it celebrates the cross of Christ…
The contradiction of the cross is that it is the symbol of torturous death which has become the symbol of salvation : Its vertical beam as a reminder of the relationship between God and Man, its horizontal Christs reaching out to the brotherhood of man. Its symbol of death , our death to sin, and its symbol of salvation , our salvation through Christ :Through that cross we, are baptized into Christ. The Franciscan habit takes on this symbology as when the friar’s hands are outstretched the habit forms the shape of this cross, as do all when they pray with outstreached arms; just as Jesus stretched out his arms to us while on that cross.
We adore You, O Christ, and praise You,
Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.