As more than two billion people of the world observe today the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, there are different images of the journey of Jesus carrying his Cross with nails pierced through his hands and feet. Though hanging criminals on the cross and leaving them to die was the Roman custom to punish serious offenders, the image of this “offender”, though ‘more sinned against’, now occupies a place of honour in all the churches around the world.
So, why this paradox Why the glorification of a man who died a criminal’s death in rather shameful conditions ? To begin with, when we go through the records of the trial of Jesus before the governor Pilate, he tells the crowd that he found nothing against Jesus. That was a fact. The high priest, however, accused Jesus of blasphemy. Finally, Pilate ruled in favour of Jesus’ crucifixion, as the gospel narratives tell us, more due to pressure from the crowd ( they wanted Barabbas, a criminal, released) than for any offence that could be legally proved.
Be that as it may, before Jesus was made to carry the Cross on which He would be crucified, a crown of thons was placed on his head. He was ridiculed and called “King of the Jews”. The soldiers leading Him to Mount Calvary spat upon Him and lashed Him every time He fell, they also ordered Simon of Cyrene to help Him in carrying the Cross, as Jesus was very weak and the Cross was heavy.
When He reached Calvary, He was laid on the Cross and nails were driven in His hands and feet and the Cross was lifted on high and, with a heave was put into the hole that had been prepared beforehand. How it must have shaken Him up !! He felt abandoned by all, and cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani ? (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me ? )
Towards the end, He forgave those who had dealt with Him so brutally and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they have done”. Thus Jesus, proclaimed the prayer of forgiveness, even for the men who had ill-treated Him. That was in line with what he lived and died for.
ARE YOU READY TO FORGIVE ????? Really forgive and emulate Jesus’ concrete act of forgiving, not merely as a concept or thought, but in reality ???? Can He inspire us all to forgive ??
—— Father Dominic Emmanuel