March 25, 2016
“You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.”
Usually when I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I begin by speaking this prayer quickly under my breath, but yesterday, I couldn’t get past the first two words:
Jesus, expiring. Jesus, breathing His last. There was a definitive end of His life.
Of course, we know that is not the whole story, but we should linger here with His faithful ones who witnessed the crucifixion; they did not know that He would rise again. To complete His masterwork, the redemption of humanity, He had to take on all of sin’s punishments, with death at the very end.
He expired, His time was up, completed, perfected. But to all others, He lost, he was defeated. His loss was extended, like His Arms broken, spread across the wood, falling limp after His last breath.
I can imagine there were some women around the Cross who held great hope that Jesus would take Himself down from the Cross. There must have been. The unique strength of women is seen in the crucifixion narrative, as women wailed, stayed with Jesus, reached out to experience some of His pain. I bet there were faithful women there with that hope: that a ray of light would appear, God the Father would speak just like at the Baptism, and some miracle would lead to Jesus’ freedom and victory over His captors. He would remove His Arms from the wood, take out the nails staking His Body into the Cross, and descend from His sentence.
This never happened. Jesus allowed the nails to remain in His Arms, His Feet. Jesus chose to use His freedom to submit, to expire.
Still, there must have been that hope for these women, up until the moment of death, that something would happen that would thwart death’s final blow.
As humans, death is a final moment of life, one that will inevitably come; when it does, there is no turning back. This universal human reality is what brings drama to all of the medical dramas and war dramas. We all know the scene: the moment after a hero tries their best to resuscitate someone (with music swelling), only to hear a flat line on the heart monitor. The hero may scream and look up to the sky in defiance (*the camera pans out*), they may look down, their shoulders shuddering, sobbing at their defeat (*the camera zooms in*). These scenes rely on there being that definitive moment. There is a definitive expiration of life, the moment of changing the situation away from death has passed.
Jesus subjected Himself to the same human, definitive moment of death. "He became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
And just before moment, He announced the consummation of this work, His Crucifixion, our redemption. Our strong redeemer, our mighty warrior, our valiant king, our good shepherd, our tender-hearted husband declared that this new covenant had been established. He had given all. It was finished. He expired.
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
We must linger here at the Cross because only here is the Face of Love at the height of His mission of Love. We must breathe in the air surrounding the bloody wood, the air sweeping over the red faces veiled with tear-soaked garments.
This is the crux, the core of our faith: We need Him, but He did not need us. We owe everything to Him. We must look upon the Face who has looked upon our sorry state, our sins we could not atone for: He took them upon his fleshy back all the way to death. If you are disturbed, confused, appalled… this makes sense, because we will not understand fully the depth of His Love until we are face to face with Him in Heaven. But we should linger here in faith and trust at the foot of the Cross, and finish the prayer:
"You expired, Jesus...
but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world.
O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.”
The unending ocean of His Pain was transformed into an unending ocean of Mercy.
It was all for us. It was all for our return to the Father’s embrace.
Good Jesus, Crucified Jesus,
You took my sins upon Yourself,
You bore them on your Back, your Side, your Heart,
So that I would have the freedom
to choose to live in this reality.
Even as you forced yourself to bear this pain against the evil one,
you do not force us to love you.
But I love you, Jesus, and may I ever love you more.
May you transform my dry bones
into a pure, empty sacrifice, fit for your use.
May you transform my will to yours,
inspire grace upon grace to continue my yes’s
through my own small partaking of Calvary.
May my mind be fixed on Your victory, Your sacrifice,
so that I may be confident even in the darkness,
when all light is hidden from my eyes,
that You have trod this path before,
and you have won.