A gaze at the crucifix can teach the soul two very important points of the spiritual life: first that the mercy and love of God is infinite, and second, it was our sin that put Him there.
In the Old Testament after creation we hear in the book of Genesis God saying: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (Genesis 6:5-6 NRSV-CI). “It grieves” His Sacred Heart when we sin and sadly throughout the history of the Old Testament humankind turns their back to God to pursue their own selfish ends. When the prophet Jeremiah was commanded to speak concerning the sins of the people of Judah we read: “Yet you did not listen to me, [says the Lord], and so you have provoked me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm.” (Jeremiah 25:7 NRSV-CI). Further on in this chapter there is a passage concerning “the cup of God’s Wrath”: “For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and go out of their minds because of the sword that I am sending among them.” (Jeremiah 25:15-16 NRSV-CI).
In the Gospels Jesus also speaks about sin, in Luke 16:15 He says to the Pharisees: “… “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15 NRSV-CI). However the story does not end here, even back in the Old Testament after being grieved by the wickedness of humankind, the Lord sent a flood to wipe out all of creation. He chose Noah, who remained faithful to Him, to survive along with his children and selected animals. After the flood in Genesis 8 we read: “[Then] Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.” (Genesis 8:20-21 NRSV-CI). Also, returning to the prophet Jeremiah after pouring out the “cup of wrath”, the Lord says: “I am going to bring it recovery and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.” (Jeremiah 33:6, 8 NRSV-CI). So why would the Lord after burning with such wrath then turn around and offer us forgiveness and healing? The answer is simply, He is Divine Mercy. However, Cardinal Robert Sarah once said: “Don’t deceive people with the word “mercy.” God forgives sins only if we repent of them.” Thus the secret is our repentance, our continual trust of returning to Him. “For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15 NRSV-CI). This is true for the people of God in all ages, for even in the New Testament we find: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10 NRSV-CI). We should also consider living truly as an instrument of mercy, our repentance followed by acts of mercy: “For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13 NRSV-CI).
Looking through the writings of St Maximilian Kolbe, he gives us clarity on this and yet offers us one more little secret. “Whenever you feel guilty, even though it is a fully conscious sin, serious, and repeated many, many times, do not be deceived by the devil by ever consenting to discouragement… My dearest, let each fall, even if most serious and repeated, always and solely serve us as a step toward higher perfection.” (KW 504). In another letter he writes: “One sole act of love—the love that comes not from feeling, but only from the will, that is an act of religious obedience made for her—is enough to turn a fall into an even greater advantage. St Thérèse of the Child Jesus writes that she had already resigned herself to the fact that she would always be imperfect.” (KW 937). He continues: “Out of Mercy, then, God does not grant such abundance of gifts and… even allows the soul to fall, so that the soul may finally know what it is by itself and stop relying on itself. So that it finally may surrender itself solely to Him with full confidence. That is why downfalls were to the saints steps toward perfection… What should one do then? Consecrate oneself totally, with boundless confidence to the hands of Divine Mercy, whose personification, by the will of God, is the Immaculata. Not rely on oneself but rather be afraid of oneself, trusting without limits in her and turning to her as a child to his mother every time one feels impelled to evil.” (KW 1100).
So with contrite hearts under the banner of the Immaculate, we can sing with psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits— who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,” (Psalms 103:2-4 NRSV-CI). Amen.
Pax et Bonum,
Peace and All Good 🙏
**These are just my own personal reflection on this week’s mystery of the rosary, what was put on my heart I felt compelled to share. I would love to hear what the Holy Spirit and the Immaculate reveals (or has revealed) to you. Please consider sharing your comments and reflections on this mystery as well. In Jesus and Mary. 🙏