“You will not be able rationally to read the Gospel and regard the Crucifixion as an afterthought or an anti-climax or an accident in the life of Christ; it is obviously the point of the story like the point of a sword, the sword that pierced the heart of the Mother of God.” – G. K. Chesterton, St. Francis of Assisi
It’s difficult to think long about the Crucifixion of Christ. There is someone we love, or at least respect, suffering incredible pain and humiliation. It is offensive, uncomfortable; the physical reality of it is raw and bloody, the emotional reality of it shameful and cruel. So much nicer, so much cleaner, to gloss over the whole event and focus on the empty tomb, the glorified and resurrected body of the risen Christ, the ethereal and heavenly realities of the Ascension, the vague spiritual dimensions of Pentecost.
But then, when our suffering comes, we’re left without an anchor, without a companion, without a guide to lead us through the vale, because we’ve never drawn near to Him in His suffering. It is the whole point of His coming: to suffer with us, to suffer for us, to become one with us in our pain and deprivation and shame, that we might someday become one with Him in His glory and joy and abundance. And until that someday comes, even our suffering can be given a higher purpose and beauty by unifying it with His suffering.
Stand at the foot of the cross, with Mary His mother and John the Beloved Disciple. Watch Him suffer, helpless to comfort or deliver Him; lament and mourn the injustice and cruelty of His death. Weep and let your heart be softened in gazing upon His suffering, that when you see the suffering of those around you your heart may be moved with compassion and pity for them as well. Weep and know that He weeps with you in your suffering, for the suffering of the world.