In 2015, I became a contributor to Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship and in 2016 became a part of their executive team before stepping down that same year. Below is a reflection I wrote for a Lent 2016 series. It was originally published February 11, 2016.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
On this second day of Lent, we stop at the first Station of the Cross. Here, Jesus is condemned to death. I’d encourage you to take the time to pray and read the Bible verses mentioned above, but most especially John 18:33 through John 19:16. It is the account of Jesus’ condemnation and sentencing to death by Pilate.
I was raised in a Protestant tradition. First Lutheran and then I made my way through a series of non-denominational churches. There was an interlude in between where I found myself boarding a “church bus” every Sunday morning and rode it to the small white “Bible believing” Baptist church. It was here that I came to memorize a copious number of Bible verses, the first and foremost John 3:16.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
I can’t remember a time where I did not know that God sent his son Jesus to this world, that through Him, I might have eternal life. I can’t remember a time that this verse wasn’t a part of my life, a part of me.
And yet, there is something about the verse that seems external everything. Almost as if I am watching a play. Cue the darkness…
First there is the day, and then a few days and Adam and Eve and on no! Look out Eve, it’s a serpent. But heaven is at the ready with a salvation plan. And look! Here is Jesus waving his hand at his father. “God, send me! I’ll go.”
Cue the poinsettias. A stable, a manger, a woman in blue and her old man husband. And there! A baby! Let’s call him Jesus.
It has become so familiar to me, that I am tempted to continue reading John 18 the same way. The baby has grown up now. He performs miracles and is followed by a large crowd, but especially by 12 men who never seem to want to leave his side. Eventually the people turn on him and now he is standing in front of Pilate inside the praetorium.
The people have delivered him to the priests. The priests have delivered him to Pilate. Pilate has delivered him to death.
But the Catechism of the Catholic church teaches us that we aren’t to read John 18-19 as mere spectators. It wasn’t the Jews of the time, or the priests, or the populace, or even Pilate.
Rather, the Catechism tells us that “all sinners were the authors of Christ’s passion.
That means, it was me. I am an author of Christ’s passion.
Paragraph 598 goes on:
598 In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that “sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.”389 Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself,390 the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:
We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them) and hold him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of the Apostle, “None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” We, however, profess to know him. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him.391
Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.392
Of course, I am a sinner. It is my sin that has put him on trial. John 3:16 isn’t just a nice story, and Isaiah 53:7 is not just about a man who is condemned unjustly. They are about the Lord God of heaven and earth. A God so mighty he humbled himself – silenced himself – as he was condemned to death.
For me. For my sins.
For you. For your sins.
Do you have a crucifix in your home? Take a few moments and sit in silence. Wondering about the majesty of a God condemned to die for our sake.
Is there a sin you continue to return to? Ask Him now for the grace to leave it behind.