Thursday, March 28, 2013

Meditation on the Eleventh Station of the Cross: Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross

We have now come to the eleventh station of the Cross - Jesus is nailed to the cross.

The following is a description from about what it meant to be nailed to the cross:
At the site of execution, by law, the victim was given a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) as a mild analgesic [our Lord rejected this drink which would have eased his pain somewhat].  The criminal was then thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the patibulum. The hands could be nailed or tied to the crossbar, but nailing apparently was preferred by the Romans..The archaeological remains of a crucified body, found in an ossuary near Jerusalem and dating from the time of Christ, indicate that the nails were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 in (13 to 18 cm) long with a square shaft 3/8 in (1 cm) across. Furthermore, ossuary findings and the Shroud of Turin have documented that the nails commonly were driven through the wrists rather than the palms.
After both arms were fixed to the crossbar, the patibulum and the victim, together, were lifted onto the stipes. On the low cross, four soldiers could accomplish this relatively easily. However, on the tall cross, the soldiers used either wooden forks or ladders.
Next, the feet were fixed to the cross, either by nails or ropes. Ossuary findings and the Shroud of Turin suggest that nailing was the preferred Roman practice. Although the feet could be fixed to the sides of the stipes or to a wooden footrest (suppedaneum), they usually were nailed directly to the front of the stipes. To accomplish this, flexion of the knees may have been quite prominent, and the bent legs may have been rotated laterally.

This is what they did to our great Creator God, the One who gave them their lives, the One who was submitting himself to this terrible death so that they and all of us may spend all eternity with Him. During all of this, Our Lord silently submitted, no complaints, no bitterness or anger at those who were doing this. Although it was the Roman soldiers who physically pounded the nails into the Precious Body of our Lord, it was all our sins that nailed him to the Cross. Each sin we commit is like a blow of the hammer against the nails. We know that Jesus will bear the marks of these nails on His Resurrected Body for all eternity as a silent witness to the horrible consequence of sin and what it took to forgive our sin. In fact, these holes left by the nails were the identifying sign to the apostles after Christ's resurrection. Luke 24:35-40:
Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,”he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!
“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.
Only the true God is a suffering God, only the true God allows himself to be beaten and nailed to a cross so that He might save His creation from death and destruction.
"If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love."
--St. Gemma Galgani
The world teaches us that suffering is bad, and we are almost obligated to do whatever we can to avoid suffering. Do you have a headache? Take a pill. Is your marriage difficult? Get a divorce. Can't stand your relatives? Just stop talking to them. Is this pregnancy "inconvenient", will it put a cramp in your lifestyle? Then get rid of that baby. Life is short. You only go around once. You have to enjoy it as much as you can. Love? That's just all about good feelings. As Woody Allen once said, "The heart wants what it wants." It's "whatever gets you through the night", as John Lennon sang.

Christ's way, the Christian way, is one of self denial. It is one that actually seeks out suffering because redemption comes through suffering. It's one that pays no attention to its own wants and desires but looks first of all what Our Lord says and follows Him no matter what the price.

From the Way of the Cross by St. Francis:
Jesus, being stripped of His garments, was violently thrown upon the cross and His hands and feet nailed thereto. In such excruciating pains He remained silent, because it pleased His heavenly Father. He suffered patiently, because He suffered for me. How do I act in sufferings and in troubles? How fretful and impatient, how full of complaints I am!
If someone accidentally bumps into me and doesn't apologize, my self-righteous anger starts to show itself.  If someone is taking too long in a check-out line, I find myself starting to grumble under my breath.  Yet our Lord - who was completely righteous and pure, without sin - gave Himself to the executioners to inflict the most hideous suffering upon Him.   We are joined to Christ by suffering with Him.  If we are to be truly Christ-like, we must also learn to suffer.
Suffering is a great grace; through suffering the soul becomes like the Saviour; in suffering love becomes crystallised; the greater the suffering, the purer the love.
--St. Faustina
It is You Jesus, stretched out on the cross, who gives me strength and are always close to the suffering soul. Creatures will abandon a person in his suffering, but You, O Lord, are faithful...
--St. Faustina 

From St. Francis Way of the Cross:
O Jesus, gracious Lamb of God, I renounce forever my impatience. Crucify, O Lord, my flesh and its concupiscences; scourge, scathe, and punish me in this world, do but spare me in the next. I commit my destiny to Thee, resigning myself to Thy holy will: may it be done in all things!
May I learn to truly look to and imitate our Lord and the suffering He endured, willingly and without complaint, completely giving of Himself for mankind.  May I learn the enduring message of True Charity which is conceived and born in suffering..

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