Saint Josemaría

Daily texts

The crucifixion and death of Jesus

The sorrowful mysteries help the believer to relive the death of Jesus, to stand at the foot of the Cross beside Mary, to enter with her into the depths of God's love for man and to experience all its life-giving power. (John Paul II, "Rosarium Virginis Mariae", 22)

From the Gospel of St. John:

And bearing the cross for himself, he went forth to the place called the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side and Jesus in the center.

And Pilate also wrote an inscription and had it put on the cross. And there was written, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Many of the Jews therefore read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin. The chief priests of the Jews said therefore to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'He said, I am the King of the Jews'" Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified him, took his garments and made of them four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven in one piece from the top. They therefore said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but let us cast lots for it, to see whose it shall be." That the Scripture might be fulfilled which says, "They divided my garments among them; and for my vesture they cast lots." These things therefore the soldiers did.

Now there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, thy son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, thy mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst." Now there was standing there a vessel full of common wine; and having put a sponge soaked with the wine on a stalk of hyssop, they put it to his mouth. Therefore, when Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is consummated!" And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit. (John 19:17-30) From St. Josemaría Escrivá:

For Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, the throne of triumph is ready. You and I do not see Him writhe on being nailed: suffering all that can be suffered, He spreads His arms with the gesture of an Eternal Priest...

The soldiers take His holy garments and divide them into four parts. —In order not to tear the tunic, they cast lots to decide whose it shall be. —And so, once more, the words of the Scripture are fulfilled: They have parted my garments among them and for my robe they have cast lots (John 19:23-24).

Now He is on high... And close to her Son, at the foot of the Cross, stand Mary... and Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. And John, the disciple whom He loved. Ecce mater tua! —Behold thy mother! —He gives us His Mother for our own.

Earlier they had offered Him wine mingled with gall, and when He had tasted it, He would not drink (Matt 27:34).

Now He thirsts... for love, for souls.

Consummatum est. —It is consummated (John 19:30).

Foolish child, look: all this... He has suffered it all for you... and for me. —Can you keep from crying? (Holy Rosary, The Crucifixion)

Now they are crucifying Our Lord, and with him two thieves, one on his right and one on his left. Meanwhile, Jesus says:

Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).

It is Love that has brought Jesus to Calvary. And once on the Cross, all his gestures and all his words are of love, a love both calm and strong.

With a gesture befitting an Eternal Priest, without father or mother, without lineage (cf. Heb 7:3), he opens his arms to the whole human race.

With the hammerblows with which Jesus is being nailed, there resound the prophetic words of Holy Scripture: They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones, and they stare and gloat over me (Ps 21:17-18).

My people, what have I done to thee, or in what have I saddened thee? Answer me! (Mich 6:3).

And we, our soul rent with sorrow, say to Jesus in all sincerity: I am yours and I give my whole self to You; gladly do I nail myself to your Cross, ready to be in the cross-roads of this world a soul dedicated to You, to your glory, to the work of Redemption, the co-redemption of the whole human race. (Way of the Cross, XI Station – Jesus is Nailed to the Cross)

We have to fight vigorously to do good, precisely because it is difficult for us men to resolve seriously to be just, and there is a long way to go before human relations are inspired by love and not hatred or indifference. We should also be aware that even if we achieve a reasonable distribution of wealth and a harmonious organization of society, there will still be the suffering of illness, of misunderstanding, of loneliness, of the death of loved ones, of the experience of our own limitations.

Faced with the weight of all this, a Christian can find only one genuine answer, a definitive answer: Christ on the cross, a God who suffers and dies, a God who gives us his heart opened by a lance for the love of us all. Our Lord abominates injustice and condemns those who commit it. But he respects the freedom of each individual. He permits injustice to happen because, as a result of original sin, it is part and parcel of the human condition. Yet his heart is full of love for men. Our suffering, our sadness, our anguish, our hunger and thirst for justice... he took all these tortures on himself by means of the cross.

Christian teaching on pain is not a series of facile considerations. It is, in the first place, a call to accept the suffering inseparable from all human life. I cannot hide from you the fact that there has often been pain in my life and more than once I have wanted to cry. I tell you this joyfully, because I have always preached and tried to live the truth that Christ, who is love, is to be found on the cross. At other times, I have felt a great revulsion to injustice and evil, and I have fought against the frustration of not being able to do anything — despite my desire and my effort — to remedy those unjust situations.

When I speak to you about suffering, I am not just talking theory. Nor do I limit myself to other people’s experience when I tell you that the remedy is to look at Christ, if when faced with suffering, you at some time feel that your soul is wavering. The scene of Calvary proclaims to everyone that afflictions have to be sanctified, that we are to live united to the cross.

If we bear our difficulties as Christians, they are turned into reparation and atonement. They give us a share in Jesus' destiny and in his life. Out of love for men he volunteered to experience the whole gamut of pain and torment. He was born, lived and died poor. He was attacked, insulted, defamed, slandered and unjustly condemned. He knew treachery and abandonment by his disciples. He experienced isolation and the bitterness of punishment and death. And now the same Christ is suffering in his members, in all of humanity spread throughout the earth, whose head and firstborn and redeemer he is.

Suffering is part of God's plans. This is the truth, however difficult it may be for us to understand it. It was difficult for Jesus Christ the man to undergo his passion: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours be done." In this tension of pleading and acceptance of the Father’s will, Jesus goes calmly to his death, pardoning those who crucify him.

This supernatural acceptance of suffering was, precisely, the greatest of all conquests. By dying on the cross Jesus overcame death. God brings life from death. The attitude of a child of God is not one of resignation to a possibly tragic fate; it is the sense of achievement of someone who has a foretaste of victory. In the name of this victorious love of Christ, we Christians should go out into the world to be sowers of peace and joy through everything we say and do. We have to fight — a fight of peace — against evil, against injustice, against sin. Thus do we serve notice that the present condition of mankind is not definitive. Only the love of God, shown in the heart of Christ, will attain the glorious spiritual triumph of men. (Christ is Passing By, 168)