25.1 At the Foot of the Cross. Up is Down. Down is Up.

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The “Third Week”: Week Twenty-Five/Session One.

Theme: The Suffering and Death of Jesus.

Our reading for today: St. Ignatius’ Colloquy Before Christ Crucified.

I put myself before Jesus Christ our Lord, present before me on the cross. I talk to Him about how He creates because He loves and then He is born one like us out of love, so emptying Himself as to pass from eternal life to death here in time, even death on a cross. By His response of love for God His Father, He dies for my sins.

I look to myself and ask – just letting the questions penetrate my being: In the past, what response have I made to Christ? How do respond to Christ now? What response should I make to Christ?

As I look upon Jesus as He hangs upon the cross, I ponder whatever God may bring to my attention. (Ignatius SE53 Translation by David L. Fleming)

So…what thoughts come to your mind when you take the necessary time, as Ignatius suggests we do this week, to ponder at the foot of the cross? What feelings are there? What’s really going on inside me as I kneel before this iconic picture of the Son of God who has chosen to die for me upon this horrific instrument of death?

Sadly, the many graphic illustrations that picture Jesus hanging on the cross have become so familiar to many of us over the years, it’s very possible for us to “see” the picture with our physical eyes, but miss it completely when it comes to comprehending the deep, rich meaning of this actual moment in time, when Jesus was crucified; put to death by those who should have known better.

For me, this particular morning, as I ponder the Master hanging upon His cross, I sense myself living in a world that must be upside down. Where else, for example, than on planet earth, can so many things “good” be called “bad,” while “bad” becomes the standard for “good?” Where else will a Messiah be crucified while a criminal is set free? And where else can evil be allowed to traffic in such a way that the One who came to heal, save, and deliver actually becomes the object of hatred, abuse and ultimately, crucifixion and death?

Sad, isn’t it?

But wait, as I look just a bit deeper into this maze of confusion…there’s more.

As I see it, this upside down world we live in, with its’ out-of-order sense of direction, is actually being turned inside out by a God who is not stopped by death or destruction. In truth, this horrific death of God’s Son is forcing Darkness to step into the Light. Everything that is wrong in my world is being summoned now by a Higher Power to step out of the shadows and be seen for what it truly is. This moment in time, as Jesus suffers upon the Cross, is actually a God-devised trap that’s meant to draw Satan and his forces out of hiding so the whole universe can see how evil he really is. And just as blood in the water always draws a man-eating shark, so there he is…Satan himself, smiling and joking around with his cronies as the Son of Man draws His last breath.

You see, as C.S. Lewis writes in his Chronicles of Narnia, while evil does have the power to kill and destroy, that power is very limited and is orchestrated by one who has only a limited knowledge of ultimate truth. God, you see, knows of a “deeper magic” that goes far beyond the limitations of this upside-down world where Messiahs are crucified while evil is celebrated. A “magic” that can take an evil-driven, gruesome death, such as the one we find Jesus choosing at the cross, and turn it into a redemptive life-giving act of mercy! In other words, in God’s economy, one small act of sacrificial charity will ultimately trump an army full of evil and hatred. One bloody cross buys a world full of sin-sick souls.

Hmm.

I’m beginning to see it now, as I squint just a bit more at this very familiar scene. As one songwriter put it…

Down at Your feet, oh Lord, is the Most High Place.

My prayer: Jesus, with Your help, I can begin to see it. A world so full of evil, where Satan seems to have his way, is actually being turned upside-down and inside-out by Your amazing work of redemption upon the cross. While evil seems delighted in its ability to kill and destroy, You are actually drawing it into the Light so that ultimately it can be judged and eliminated through Your redemptive blood. And for that, I say “Thank You, Master, thank You!” For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: In this amazing moment in time we call the Crucifixion, my world is being re-shaped and redeemed. So what deeper truths are awaiting me as I ponder, as Ignatius suggests, the scene of Jesus at the cross?

So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?

Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!

To go onto the next journal entry…click here.

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