Nails Not Needed

Reflection for Palm Sunday by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our March 22nd newsletter

A few years ago, a priest shared a story about visiting a chapel in Namibia where, as he prayed, he noticed that something was different about the wooden crucifix. When he went closer to examine it, he saw that there were no nails holding Jesus on the cross. Why? It dawned on him that it wasn’t the nails that held Jesus on the cross—love did.

Have you ever wondered if the excruciating agony of Jesus’ crucifixion was really necessary for our salvation? How could a loving Father God demand the torture of the Son? Certainly God could have chosen another way without so much pain and blood. Wasn’t it enough that God became human? But that’s the point. Paul reminds us that the Christ came “in human likeness.”

In our humanity, we all experience suffering. Only some are tortured. Not all undergo great physical pain. But each of us suffers in some way: loneliness, isolation, depression, rejection, anxiety, abuse, death of loved ones, financial insecurity, impact of racism, spiritual emptiness; not an exhaustive list. For more than a year, the whole human family has suffered with the global pandemic. Is the reason for Jesus’ Passion not only about, or even mainly about, payment for our salvation, but about God “in human likeness,” desiring to enter fully into the human experience? Is it more about God being present with me in my suffering than it is about saving my soul?

In the Palm Sunday narrative of the Passion, all the palm wavers disappear; the “Hosannas” are traded for cries to “Crucify him!” Jesus is deserted by almost all his closest friends and disciples. From an instrument of torture he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But the good news for us is that we can be sure that God in human likeness knows and understands our suffering and never abandons us. God is with us, even when we don’t feel God’s Presence. Self-emptying love is what kept Jesus on the cross.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on March 23, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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