Cross-Eyed

We have come to Holy Week which means that Lent is coming to a close. I’m sure that it brings up mixed emotions. On the one hand it’s really exciting because we soon get to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but on the other hand all those fish deals at food chains are going away!

I have definitely, but accidentally, tried to teach a youth group how to sing a Mass part for the “Gloria” and that one part that begins with an “Alle” and ends with a “luia”. Not my best moment since we don’t sing those at Mass during Lent.

Overall this has been a really good Lent! Yet I noticed something lately; in Lent I always focus more on the Crucifix than in the normal times of the year. I think if I am honest Christ on the Cross is difficult for me. Not because I don’t believe that it happened or that I think Jesus is weak or not really the Son of God for dying or something like that. No, quite the opposite. I do see God’s strength and how courageous and true His love really is. How amazing! God loved me so much that He sent His son to die for me. That’s remarkable. That’s incredible! 

I suppose what I have difficulty with is what that means. When I look at the Cross I often see so many of my failings and even wonder if I would be able to go through what Christ suffered to stand up for my faith. When I look at my sinfulness, I can be very beat down. I don’t know if I could do that for God! Not because I don’t want to! I want to lay my life down for God, but I am constantly confronted with my own less-than-perfectness; “I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:5). Ugh!

I struggle because I take my eyes off of Christ and look at my own sin. My gaze wanders from the eternal love of God and begins to construct false realities of the Cross. Subconsciously I have often thought when I look at the Cross that Jesus was looking down at me and saying, “You owe me.” 

One of the most important moments this Lent that has set a new tone for my thinking occurred not too long ago. I was continually having deep fears of going to hell or that God was disappointed with me and when I related this to a friend they took me to a 24/7 adoration chapel in town. As I sat before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament my eyes naturally wandered to the Crucifix where I was yet again faced with Jesus’ sacrifice. After relating everything to my friend about the experiences I was having in prayer and in my thoughts I began to be honest with God about how I felt and how I thought He felt about me. There was not voice that spoke to me that night, but I did leave that chapel changed, and convinced that first and foremost what Jesus wants to communicate to me and to all of us through the Crucifix is His love.

Yes, I know this may not sound that profound. But, I have been Catholic my whole life, and it took an experience like this for it to really hit home! God’s love is not something we earn or deserve but is given freely. He is trying to communicate His love in every way He can, and especially through the Cross! When Jesus looked down at us from the Cross, He wants to communicate His deep love for us. It is incredibly humbling to look at the image of Christ Crucified and see what our sins did, but let us never forget that this is not God communicating, “You owe me” but rather, “I love you”. As we embark upon Holy Week let us place the love of God, which always brings us enthusiasm and vigor in our daily tasks always before us. Let us remember that His sacrifice is one of love.