“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” John 8:28
Christians are freed by the sign of death, yet they hardly recognize it. The crucifix dangling around our necks, in our churches and on the walls of our homes are not just pretty adornments; they are meant to be reminders of death, the gravity of our mortality and eternal life.
We live in a culture of death and many times embrace it. Yet we are hypocrites, turning our faces away from God while our crucifix lies behind us. Death in the culture is final, it provides no reprieve or understanding. Death in the kingdom is celebration, reuniting with God and spending our lives in eternity with Him.
I have found the Christian response to this pandemic many times missing the mark. We are talking around it or trying to explain it. The majority of things that I have read, say that it is to draw people closer to God and that may be true. But life’s lessons in God’s economy are never about others, they are always about us.
As we turn our gaze from outward to inward, looking away from the culture and to the crucifix, our eyes are forced to become transfixed on death. There is no escaping it. To come face to face with our own mortality is to have an encounter with God. It forces us to recognize that we are freed by a sign of death. A hanging corpus. A bloody mess.
We are afraid to face away from the culture and towards the crucifix because then we must confront ourselves
Meditating today on the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary provides that crucified reflection that we all need, grounding our experience with death and suffering, and keeping our attention off of the world and on to Him.
The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning with Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross and finally, the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Reflecting on these events in the sorrowful mysteries helps us to understand the concept of memento mori, remember that you must die. We look to the crucifix, round the mysteries of the rosary, and hold on to the idea of memento mori in order to focus ourselves inside the understanding of our own mortality, of the immortality of God, and that tomorrow is not promised.
But if we stare at the crucifix long enough, really digest its meaning, we soon see that the story for us didn’t end there. While this culture’s finality is waving at us in the background, we are reminded that Christ’s death is not final, it is in fact the beginning.
As we come to the end of ourselves during this Lenten time, use these meditative tools to produce the fruit of change. Confront death not with trepidation or fear but with boldness.
Place an image of the crucifix in front of you and confront yourself