Several years ago there was much commentary and controversy about the then recently produced Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ. Perhaps because of all the hoopla surrounding this film, I neither desired nor intended to see it.
However, The Passion of the Christ eventually appeared on our campus movie channel and I did view it there. I will admit that I was powerfully moved by the film’s graphic portrayal of the excessively cruel treatment heaped upon Jesus. I had never previously come to such a realization of just how great must have been the sufferings of the Lord: vicious bloody beatings on His body, utter rejection and humiliation and, finally, the monstrous agonizing death by crucifixion. What a marvelous and mysterious paradox, that this instrument of torture and means of punishing hardened criminals – the Cross – should become a most important Christian symbol of God’s love and mercy and forgiveness: the Cross upon whom was hung our Salvation!
The ways of God, that can take what is regarded by our world to be disgraceful and utter defeat – the Cross – and turn it into glorious victory over sin and death, are mysterious indeed! In a homily he preached at the start of Holy Week a few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that, “Love is the giving of ourselves and, for this reason, it is the path of authentic life symbolized by the Cross.”
“The Cross of horror became the Cross of hope, the tortured body became the body that gives new life, the gaping wounds became the source of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation” (Henri Nouwen).
We praise You and we thank You, O Lord, because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world!
Fr. Raymond Doherty, S.S.E. ‘51, Campus Minister
First Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25
Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel: John 18:1-19:42
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website