By grace you have been saved through faith (Eph 2, 8)
Jesus crucified bears out that where sin increases, grace overflows all the more.
Salvation history is, in summary, the history of God’s goodness and his people’s unfaithfulness. Our Lord is always kind, but all too often we repay him evil for good.
All the people, leaders and led, all of us forget in our ingratitude the generous love with which our Benefactor treats us. We add infidelity to infidelity.
But God does not forsake us. He warns us repeatedly through those people who have never knelt before avarice. He loves us so much that finally he sends us his only Son, thinking, “They will respect my son.”
Sadly, God’s optimism is disappointed. To top it all, the wicked murdered the Son, which should provoke in God, to speak in a human way, an outburst of wrath that would put the wretched to a shameful death.
Undoubtedly, the crucifixion puts in full view how extremely mean we are. But the gift of his only Son constitutes also the height of God’s love. This love to the end will not be wasted. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,” the same symbol of death serving as symbol of life, so also is Jesus lifted, the sign both of the fall and rising of the people, “so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
And to be at the foot of the cross is to place ourselves in the best place where we can be in the world, as says St. Vincent de Paul to St. Louise de Marillac (FrI:152). The Crucified One impels us to be more keenly aware of our sins and of divine love to the utmost.
Those who are truly aware of their unfaithfulness and pettiness, as well as of God’s goodness and greatness, surely believe with repentance and humility in the one who forgives sins. They do not flee from him, as does the unrepentant, or the despairing who is overcome by shame and guilt, or someone who is bothered by the light. The Crucified One, exemplifying every virtue (St. Thomas Aquinas), teaches them besides that salvation lies in perdition, in giving the body up and shedding blood for others.
Lord, send down your Spirit upon us, so that through Christ, with him and in him, we may be saved as we hand ourselves over for our brothers and sisters.