Look at Christ crucified

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

These days when we are in the middle of both the holiest of weeks and the dreaded coronavirus pandemic, it might be a good idea to recover that pious practice of meditating on the passion and death of the cross, looking intently on the image of Christ crucified.

It should not be an exercise of sentimentalism or pietism, but a real, authentic act of piety, reanimated by what ideally should be our ever-deepening faith, hope and charity in Christ, the son of God who became man to redeem us. This is not the time for playing games. We need to get real in this!

Let us see to it that we should use all our powers for this purpose. We should not just be cerebral and spiritual without involving our feelings and passions. And the other way around. We should not just be full of emotions without using the full force of our intelligence and will.

Let us try to fathom the depth of God’s love for us who, as St. Paul said, emptied himself to become man and further emptied himself by offering his life on the cross as a ransom for all our sins. It’s a love that we have to learn and to live ourselves, since we are supposed to be God’s image and likeness, children of his, meant to share in his divine life.

Let us understand that the true face of love, as shown by Christ, is one that should be given completely gratuitously. It is given to all, including those who do not love us, without expecting any return.

And for that, we have to be willing to bear all the burdens of everyone in the way Christ bore all our sins even if we have not yet asked for forgiveness. Let us not be calculating in our love.

Let us just give and give, love and love, unafraid of the effort and the suffering that may be involved, and even if we are misunderstood, mistreated, and opposed.

This way we would effectively channel Christ’s love for us, he who commanded us to love one another as he has loved us. (cfr. Jn 15,12)

Anent this truth, St. Paul said: “Rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5,7-8)

Let us be generous and magnanimous in our loving. And the secret again is to look closely at Christ crucified who should be the central object of our attention not only these days but all the time.

It might be helpful to keep in our pockets always a handy crucifix for us to be reminded of the crucified Christ. To be sure this practice would not be some sign of childishness but rather of a mature faith, of a consistent Christian and son of God.

Just looking at it would already arouse in us impulses of love that can be shown perhaps in small gestures of affection, in the ready acceptance of trials and difficulties big and small, in coming up with initiatives for the good of others, etc. It would not be a sterile exercise.

Looking at Christ crucified will also help us to live the spirit of penance well, making us realize more deeply that we are all in need of conversion. We would be moved to make reparation for all the sins of men, ours and those of others.

Truly, looking at Christ crucified will strongly invite us to do many acts of love. We would seem to hear from Christ himself: “My child, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways…” (Prov 23,26)

Perhaps we would be left with the feeling that in spite of our best intentions to love him, we know we are always short of our desires. Still, Christ understands that and encourages us to keep on trying.


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