Guest post by Warren Jewell
I don’t know about you, but if a bunch of thugs nailed me to a wooden display after having beat me up, my Italian side would not be very nice in talking to them. In fact, I can’t think of any side of me that would be nice. I would avoid saying anything terrible about their moms, but all else would get free rein. However, the High Priest Himself not merely said nice things to his death squad, He pleaded for them with His Father to forgive them for their ignorance. Even Frank’s best ‘Sheesh!’ can’t cover that act of love.
What a great Guy we have in Jesus! You can hope for the same magnanimous, magnificent mercy without even asking, right? Right? Wrong! They were ignorant—we are not. His love for us is as infinite as ever, but, “they know not what they do” has no place for us. We know that we torture and destroy God made man, our own Savior, Priest of priests, Innocent of innocents, King of kings, God from God—need I go on?—as surely as we know anything.
There’s no easy way out anywhere for me. Mother Mary would cast an eye on us, me among the embarrassed group, and tell Saint John, “Keep an eye on this bunch. They need a lot of work.”
I have been blessed with open ears, and have listened; blessed with open eyes, I have seen. So, I know better about what it is I do, Who it is I am doing it to. “But – I had to do it – really!” It sounds rather empty, standing under that Cross; Mary Magdalene looking at me with a “How could you?!” look. The good thief, traditionally named Saint Dismas, would shockingly realize what he was witnessing: “You mean, Lord, that he is from among Your followers?!” Indeed, surrounded by His most beloved, and with Jesus the Christ hanging, dying, right over our heads, just where could I look?
Of wonderful mercy, I cannot have been party to the actual Crucifixion. However, every time I sin, I do stand beneath that Cross without an excuse or reason or cause. I am not ignorant. I am shamefully aware that I am guilty of sin. And His Blood flows not only as His perfect sacrifice because of my sin, but as His purifying waters to wash away my sin.
If somehow I could take away my sin, and you your sin, we would not have put Him on the Cross. We all know better: that we sin and even the best of us is putting the Lord Jesus Christ up on His Cross just too regularly. Once again, we must stand beneath Him, explain to His Mother why “my sin was more important to do” than not crucifying her Son. Looking at His tortured frame yet again is not ever going to make any of us do less than cringe all the way to the confessional.
His gift to His executioners was mercy in the face of ignorance. His gift to us and through His Church and His Word are that we need not, and more importantly cannot, be ignorant.
Faith and reason, as two essential gifts to all of us who submit our wills to believe, ride to our rescue, if we just permit God to care for and cherish us through them. We lost ignorance long ago, my friends. We gained the beloved Presence of the Lord to make the best of us, and have no doubts about that.
Now, just take a moment and bow before a crucifix and know that He is God and loves you all that much.