Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Sonja Corbitt

4/22/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A meditation on the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus

As we trod with Jesus the steps to Golgotha that draw Lent to a close, let us look upon the healing execution. See what evil does to the earth, to the world, to goodness, and know that it is also VANQUISHED. It is Good Friday. Let us lift our eyes to the Son of God upon the cross, for "He has power over life and death; He leads men down to the gates of death and back again" (Wis. 16:13).

Highlights

By Sonja Corbitt

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/22/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Lent / Easter

Keywords: lent, easter, good friday, atheism, crucifixion, veneration of cross, love of god, serpent wilderness, garden eden, satan, evil, holy week, resurrection, eternal life, Sonja Corbitt


NASHVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - Behold the wood of the cross, on which has hung our salvation: come let us adore (Liturgy of the Lord's Passion).

As we trod with Jesus the steps to Golgotha that draw Lent to a close, it is worthy to note that these are not the waning days of a dry, tired Lent. Instead, they inexorably ripen; they wax heavy and full with our veneration of a most contradictory crucifixion, the definitive gesture of the "God Who Exists." They are about to burst forth in a gush of LIFE, but not yet; these are the days of the grave.

Pilate, echoing modern secular philosophy, said, "What is truth?" Truth is Crucifixion. Angry death. The God who created the cosmos and every created, living, breathing, and existing thing out of and unto His own living, breathing existence, gave Himself up to the worst that humanity could do: man murdered God. Much as the atheist cried, God was truly dead.

God is Dead

Like Christ who went before us, we Christians admit the scandal of this death. We embrace it, because simply, Jesus did. He accepted our scorn. He received it all within eternal outstretched arms - our meanness, our ugliness, our revulsion and hatred. He welcomed it. He continues to welcome it, because it is no match for Him. He reigns from it; love is stronger than death.

What other religious demonstration in all of history is worthy of deity but this supreme, matchless humility? While he makes Himself a curse for love of us, we trample Him. What other god gives Himself utterly to the revenge of men?

From those who would make themselves gods, humanity demands signs and titillating sound-bites of intelligence, but God Who is God offers the foolishness, the scandal, of Himself crucified. Only a God worthy of the Name could, or would, put forward such an expression of weakness and humiliating invitation - an eternal, bloody embrace - as the ensign for Himself.

He is not angry. He is not vengeful. He is not hurtful. He is crucified. He is bloody. He is lonely.

Jesus Himself explained the scandal when He offered, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up..." Why is that?

"I AM the God of the Living"

Together, the serpent and the wood were cursed - a horrifying ancient symbol of fear, judgment, evil and death. Artistic renderings of the Garden of Eden nearly always depict the deceitful, mortal serpent entwined upon the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was an open-mouthed, striking serpent that would one day murderously confront the Woman and her Seed.

Moses' tribal staff transformed into a snake and then back into a staff in the presence of the idolatrous Egyptian Pharaoh (Ex. 4:2-4). He used this same staff in error to strike water from the rock for the people to drink (Num. 20), a fit of temper that cost Moses the attainment of the earthly Promised Land, since there was no need to violently wrest from God what He would willingly provide.

Because Moses was also Aaron's brother, it would have been that same tribal staff that indicated God's selection of Aaron as the first priest and that was placed as a memorial of the priesthood within the Holy of Holies. Later, when "[t]he soul of the people became very discouraged on the way" to the Promised Land (Num.21:4), they complained and grumbled in their weariness, and wandered into a den of venomous snakes. As fever and death from the poison rampaged through the camp, the people cried out to God to save them from the revolting snakes. God heard and answered them with great deliberation.

At God's instruction, Moses affixed one of the frightening serpents to a "pole" (Num. 21) and raised it at the door of the tabernacle (St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, LX). Could it also be that the "pole" was the staff of Moses and Aaron, prophet and priest from the same tribe, removed from the inner sanctuary for the salvation of the suffering people? The raising of this contemptible figure would have surely caused the people to shrink in revulsion, but they were invited to confront their pain and fear in order to be healed.

It was this stunning image that Jesus pointed to in His dialogue with Nicodemus as an analogy to His own saving death: "If I be lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness..." Because anyone who hung on a tree was cursed (Duet. 21:22-23), Jesus became a curse in order to be lifted up from the earth as a banner to save those who would look to Him. For this reason "the Lord was pleased to crush him in infirmity." Jesus did this readily at every step, foretelling the awful, accursed method to Nicodemus, without any doubt of the Father's love for Him.

Jesus teaches us that what hurts most us can also heal us indeed, that we can be unafraid to abandon the restless yearnings of our deepest needs, weaknesses and desires into our Father's infinite hand. Whatever sin keeps you from this matchless Love, whether your own or that which has been done to you through someone else's ugliness, abandon it to the Father just as Jesus offered His very life and received it back as the nourishment that sustains human life forever.

Only God has the power to change death into life.

The Body and Blood of Christ are the source of a supernatural life, called "the new covenant" and "eternal" in the Scriptures for its quality. It is life that is stronger than the power of death, even a cruel one. Faith to faith, it can raise the dead in our own past, circumstances, and experiences, but only if we look to Him in the putridity of death, hold His hand in the hurt and humiliation, and pass with Him into life. 

Look upon the healing execution. See what evil does to the earth, to the world, to goodness, and know that it is also VANQUISHED. It is Good Friday. Let us lift our eyes to the Son of God upon the cross, for "He has power over life and death; He leads men down to the gates of death and back again" (Wis. 16:13).

-----

Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic speaker, Scripture study author, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit pursuingthesummit.com to view a personal message from Sonja or to order her 10-week, DVD-driven Bible study Soul of the World, The Heart as God's Dwelling Place.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Lent / Easter

Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Take our Lent quiz! See how much you know about the tradition of Lent! Take our Lent quiz, then challenge your friends. See how much you know about this special season in the Liturgical year. The quiz has just a few questions, but will certainly provide a quick ... continue reading


Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How familiar are you with the Stations of the Cross? Take the Catholic Online survey now to share your answers to our questions. Your responses will help us serve you better by tailoring content that suits your needs. The survey is short and should take just 1 minute ... continue reading


10 important things to consider during Lent Watch

Image of What are our options during Lent? (Shutterstock)

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Every year we give something up for Lent. Sometimes picking what to give up is hard and other times we consider doing something extra to really immerse ourselves in what God has for us - but what are our options? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lent isn't just ... continue reading


Ash Wednesday: 'Seek To Experience God's Presence Within' Watch

Image of

By F. K. Bartels

"You may ask me: 'But, does God exist? And if he exists does he really concern himself with us? Can we reach him?' It is, indeed, true that we cannot place God on the table, we cannot touch him or pick him up like an ordinary object. We must rediscover our capacity to ... continue reading


Fat Tuesday - Mardi Gras Meant to Be More than a Party Watch

Image of Some have tried to argue that this term meant that people should discard their moral faith commitments and for the night and just

By Fr. Randy Sly

One could call this celebration the last gasp of Ordinary time as the Church anticipates the penitential Season of the forty days of Lent. Rich foods are consumed as pilgrims prepare for times of fasting, abstinence, confession and penance. Ironically, carnival ... continue reading


Missing The Point of Easter Watch

Image of Alex Basile is the Religion Department chair at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, NY. He has written nine books for Saint Pauls/Alba House. www.alexbasile.net

By Alex Basile

Author Alex Basile reflects of the true meaning of the Resurrection of Christ and how many Christians overlook the real joy of Easter. In the haziness of the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene made her way to tomb of her friend and teacher. Fighting back tears and ... continue reading


The Happy Priest on Easter: He Has Truly Risen, We Are Free From Fear Watch

Image of

By Fr. James Farfaglia

With the resurrection of Jesus, the physical is exalted.  When we truly believe in Jesus, we are resurrected in this life because we are freed from the fear and worry that are characteristic of a godless life; we are freed from the unhappiness of a life filled ... continue reading


The Power of the Resurrection in our Lives: Christ Is Risen; Indeed, He Is Risen! Watch

Image of

By F. K. Bartels

There is great cause for belief in the Resurrection. One of the most wonderful tenets of Catholicism and the true Christian religion the Church transmits, is that the Resurrection is a historical event. We do not believe Christ is resurrected only because we are told ... continue reading


Easter: Through the Octave and Beyond! Watch

Image of

By Randy Sly

While Easter is a Solemnity and an Octave Feast, it is also a 50-day journey until Pentecost. We continue to remember his resurrection with special devotion. Saint Augustine shares this perspective: "The season before Easter signifies the troubles in which we ... continue reading


Holy Saturday: 'Make Sure He's Dead' Watch

Image of God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear

By Fr. Randy Sly

Just as the Chief Priests and Pharisees gathered with Pilate to plan on keeping the tomb sealed and guarded with Christ inside, many today want to place a stone in the entrance of the Church, to keep him inside again. On Holy Saturday we remember that no matter how ... continue reading


All Lent / Easter News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?
  • Palm Sunday HD Video
  • St. Scholastica: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • Stations of the Cross - Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Joel 2:12-18
12 'But now -- declares Yahweh- come back to me with all your heart, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
3 For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
1 'Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract ... Read More

Reading 2, Second Corinthians 5:20--6:2
20 So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were urging you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 10th, 2016 Image

St. Scholastica
February 10: St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict, ... Read More