Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see.
When I gaze at the illumination with the “eyes of faith” I see groups of people at the foot of the cross, some close and some far. Those close to the cross are awash with the light of God’s love blindingly imprinted on Christ’s body and cross. Gold pours forth from the torn curtain so powerfully that “the people living in darkness have seen a great light” (Matt. 4:16). Even those people in the shadows are surrounded with God’s light. If I am one of these people, have I chosen to stand close to the cross, to be identified with a dying Savior? Or do I choose to be in the shadows further away where it is safe?
Sr. Irene Nowell likens the cross here and the one in “The Nativity” from Luke 2, as a bridge stretching forth from heaven to earth. Throughout, but particularly in these two events, God is powerfully reaching out to the people, of which I am one. I also see resting on the crossbeam what seems to be the wings of a dove, or the Holy Spirit, also ablaze with glory. In the upper corner, a splash of blue reminds me that where there is God’s light, there is a place without darkness.
Although the “bridge” of the cross extends vertically, it also can be viewed horizontally. The thief’s cross to Jesus’ right is alight with love and hope while the cross on his left is still in darkness. By traversing the cross horizontally from left to right, we are called to be transformed from lives of darkness to lives filled with God’s love. The cross on the right is reminiscent of the stamp of the cross on the Precious Body in the Eucharist. Like this thief, when I am transformed by God’s blazing love; Christ’s presence is with me always.
On this second day of Lent, “The Crucifixion” is a reminder to me of the call out of the shadows. God has provided a bridge in the cross of Christ for me to be transformed into a person of light. If I believe this to be true, then I can know that The Holy Spirit who did not abandon Christ in his suffering but abided with him in his glorification, will dwell with me too. In my trials and cares, the Spirit is waiting for my surrender to transform me as well.
© Crucifixion, Donald Jackson, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.