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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Meditation: "It is Finished"....or is it?

San Pedro Catholic Church, Florida Keys
In the past two months I've been in two churches where the crucifix over the altar depicted the suffering, living Jesus. The first time I saw it, Larry and I were at San Pedro in the Florida Keys. I was confused because I noticed the absence of the wound in Christ's side before I saw that His eyes were open. It was a little disconcerting because, while the eleventh station depicts the living Christ, the crucifix over the altar almost always shows Christ after his death has been confirmed by the centurion thrusting the lance into His side. When I saw another depiction of the living Christ this morning at Mass at St. Martha's in Kingwood, TX I began to reflect on the theology of depicting the living Jesus rather than the dead Jesus. Is this a new portraying the risen Christ?

I'll be honest; I don't like it. But why? Thinking about it, I realized how much I appreciate seeing on the cross the culmination of Christ's life ending in his death for our salvation. Jesus said, "It is finished," bowed His head, and died. The living Jesus seems somehow to illustrate the middle of the story, one left unfinished. Where are we in the events? Has the cross just been raised? Has Jesus entrusted the Blessed Mother to John? Has He promised paradise to the Good Thief? We can only guess. But there is something awful about the thought of seeing Jesus suffering every time I enter the church with that suffering never to end, with Mary standing at the foot of the cross forever waiting, suffering her own personal agony in union with her Son. The death of Christ is somehow a relief compared to the thought of Christ's unending suffering and suffocation of the agony. I want that suffering to end. I want to see in my mind's eye Mary with arms outstretched to receive the lifeless body of her Son.

I also want the confirmation of the centurion's witness, "This indeed was the Son of God." When I see Christ's wound and reflect on the blood and water flowing from His side, I know He gave every last drop of blood for love of me. And I imagine St. Therese holding the chalice to catch the blood and water, a reminder that every Mass is a reenactment of Calvary.

If I had a say in choosing a crucifix for my parish church, I would always choose the end of the passion story knowing the waiting and the Resurrection are not long in coming.

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