WHAT’S GOD DOING ON A CROSS?
According to the Gospel story, those who passed by Jesus on the cross at the top of the hill of Golgotha ridiculed him, laughing at his powerlessness. They tell him: «If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross». Jesus doesn’t answer their provocation. His answer is a silence full of mystery. It’s precisely since he is the Son of God that he will remain on the cross until death.
Questions are inevitable: How is it possible to believe in a God who is crucified for us human beings? Do we realize what we’re saying? What’s God doing on a cross? How can a religion founded on such an absurd idea of God survive?
A «crucified God» constitutes a revolution and a scandal that obliges us to question all the ideas we humans make about a God that we supposedly know. The Crucified doesn’t have the face or the appearance that religions attribute to the Supreme Being.
The «crucified God» isn’t an almighty and majestic being, unchangeable and happy, far from human suffering, but a powerless and humiliated God who suffers the pain, the anguish, and even the same death as we do. With the Cross, either our faith in God ends, or we open ourselves to a new and surprising understanding of a God who is incarnate in our suffering and who loves us in an incredible way.
In the face of the Crucified, we begin to intuit that God, in God’s ultimate mystery, is someone who suffers with us. Our misery affects God. Our suffering washes over God. There doesn’t exist a God whose life passes, as it were, outside the margins of our pains, tears and misfortunes. God is in all the Calvaries of our world.
This «crucified God» won’t permit a frivolous and selfish faith in an almighty God who serves our fickleness and pretentions. This God puts us face to face with the suffering, abandonment, and helplessness of so many victims of injustice and misfortune. We meet this God when we come close to the suffering of any crucified person.
We Christians put ourselves through all kinds of twists and turns to avoid running into the «crucified God». We have learned to even raise our eyes toward the Lord’s Cross, blocking our sight from seeing those who are crucified right before our eyes. However the most authentic way to celebrate the Lord’s Passion is to revive our compassion. Without this, our faith in the «crucified God» gets watered down and the door gets opened to all kinds of manipulations. May our kissing of Jesus on the Cross place us always in sight of those, near or far, who are suffering.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf