Pandemic may have many of us relating to the Cross in a new way
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
When we gaze upon Jesus nailed to a cross, we see a picture of total poverty. Hanging there naked in public, accused of being a criminal and enduring capital punishment, He experiences the greatest degree of trauma and shame. His body is drained of blood, His lips are parched, He is covered with cuts and bruises, He is shivering, and He is struggling to breathe. He is completely exhausted; He had been standing or walking for hours, since the time He was escorted from the Mount of Olives. (Given the kind of dungeon in which He was kept overnight, it is very unlikely that He would have sat or knelt when He was there.) Jesus is the object of sarcasm and ridicule. Only a handful of disciples stand near the cross. He must bid His mother goodbye. Feeling abandoned by His Father, He prays the first verse of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But in this depth of poverty it is quite likely that He continued praying the rest of the psalm. As He came to its conclusion He would have prayed: “... and to Him my soul shall live.”
It was the desire of St. Francis of Assisi to imitate the poor Jesus as closely as possible and to become identified with Jesus in His sufferings. Toward the end of his life Francis was given the gift of the stigmata, when his body was imprinted with the five wounds of Jesus.
During this Lent we have experienced a deep kind of poverty. We have been called to let go of family, friends, activities, places, and even church services. Can we embrace this poverty with the same trust that Jesus had on the cross? Through our physical distancing and being confined to our homes, can we rejoice in carrying the wounds of the Lord? Do we desire to glory in the cross?