Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Upon Him whom they have Pierced

Have you ever pondered the readings from yesterday? I am always struck by that passage in Exodus when the Israelites are suffering from snake bites and so ask Moses to pray for them; and God's answer is to mount a bronze serpent on a pole and tell them to look on it.

Ever think about how weird that is? That to cure yourself from a snakebite, you must look up at an image of the snake; to be healed from a wound, you have to look what caused it in the face.

And then they draw the parallel of Christ, and how looking upon Him, lifted up on the cross, heals us. Now this never really made sense to me because it's not like Christ is the one hurting us, whereas the snake is the cause of the Israelites' pain.

But then I thought of what we are seeing as we gaze upon Christ on the cross; We are really seeing evil, staring our own sin in the face. He was made sin to save us, so gazing on Him on the cross is seeing what humans have done to God. Seeing my sin and what it has cost the Son. Ignace de la Potterie writes in his excellent book "The Hour of Jesus" about the moment that Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd, saying "Behold, the Man!" He reflects on this statement of Pilate's, saying that Christ, who by this point is covered in blood from his scourging and wearing a crown of thorns, is now a revelation of "man". In looking upon Jesus at that moment, the crowd sees themselves, beaten and disfigured by sin. Christ's passion reveals what sin does to the human being. "Look," imagine Pilate saying, "Look at who you are, you who call for the death of the Son of God".

Next Friday, April 2, is the CL Way of the Cross downtown in Washington. Please come, it will start around 9:30 or 10 am at a church near the Capital South metro. It's a powerful time of prayer, incorporating poetry and music as well as readings, and we end next to the Washington monument.

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