×

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies and our Privacy Policy.

The Crucified Jesus

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Path of Descent

The Crucified Jesus
Friday, October 21, 2016

They will look upon him whom they have pierced. —John 19:37

Those who “gaze upon” the Crucified long enough—with contemplative eyes—are always deeply healed of pain, unforgiveness, violence, and victimhood. It demands no theological education, just an “inner exchange” by receiving the image within and offering one’s soul back in safe return. It is no surprise that a naked man nailed to a cross is such a deep, archetypal symbol in the Western psyche. It was meant to transform all earthly suffering.

The crucified Jesus offers, at a largely unconscious level, a very compassionate meaning to history. The mystery of the rejection, suffering, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the interpretive key for what history means and where it is going. Without such cosmic meaning and soul significance, the agonies and tragedies of humanity feel like Shakespeare’s “sound and fury signifying nothing.” [1] The body can live without food easier than the soul can live without meaning.

If all of our human crucifixions are leading to some possible resurrection, and are not dead-end tragedies, this changes everything. If God is somehow participating in our human suffering, instead of just passively tolerating it and observing it, that also changes everything—at least for those who are willing to “gaze” contemplatively.

We Christians are given the privilege to name the mystery—as the path of descent, the Way of the Cross, or the paschal mystery. Although we name and symbolize it quite well, we have not lived it much better than many other religions and cultures. All humble, suffering souls often learn this by grace.

Jesus, however, brings it front and center. A “crucified God” became the logo and central image of our Christian religion: a dying, bleeding, losing man. If that isn’t saying you win by losing, what is it going to take for us to get the message? How often do we have to look at the Crucified and miss the point? Why did we choose that as our symbol if we’re not going to believe it? Life is all about winning by losing—losing with grace and letting our losses teach and transform us. And yes, this is somehow saying that God suffers—and our suffering is also God’s suffering, and God’s suffering is ours (Colossians 1:24). That has the power to transform the human dilemma of tragedy, absurdity, and all unjust suffering—which is just about all suffering.

Gateway to Silence:
The way up is down. 

References:
[1] William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, scene 5.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 2008), 186-187; and
The Path of Descent (CAC: 2003), disc 1 (CD, MP3 download).

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.


Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Nothing Stands Alone. What could happen if we embraced the idea of God as relationship—with ourselves, each other, and the world? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.