Saturday, March 31, 2018

We do not know Christ until we know his sufferings

FEBRUARY 25, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

Every 2nd Sunday of Lent, we read the story of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Before the scandal of the Cross takes place, the Lord Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to the mountain so that they may encounter the Blessed Trinity. On that mountain, the divine glory of Jesus as God’s only Son was revealed to them. His face shone like the sun and his clothing became dazzlingly white. The Holy Spirit appeared as that shining cloud that covered Jesus and the Father made his voice heard. He said: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Both the Father and the Holy Spirit made Jesus known to Peter, James, and John. Jesus was revealed as God’s beloved Son.

But the very disciples to whom Jesus’ divinity was revealed seemed to have forgotten the revelation so easily. When Jesus was arrested in the garden, James was one of those who fled and abandoned the Lord. Peter dared to follow Jesus until the house of the high priest. There, he saw Jesus beaten up by the guards and so, when he was being identified by the servants as one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter denied the Lord 3 times: I do not know him. John followed Jesus and accompanied Mary his mother all the way to the foot of the Cross. It was there where he saw Jesus suffer and die. It was there where he saw Jesus’ side pierced with a lance. It was there where he saw the blood and water flowing from his Christ’s wounded side. But it was not until he saw the empty tomb that John believed: He saw and he believed. Thus, we understand now why Jesus admonished them not to relate the incident of the Transfiguration to others until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.

Apparently, Christ’s glory was revealed to the disciples in order to prepare them for the scandal of the Cross. And the Cross was truly a scandal. It was an incomprehensible act of Divine love. Seeing how Jesus was being beaten up, Peter was saying the truth when he said that he did not know Jesus. For no one will truly know Jesus unless he sees him Crucified and Risen from the dead. When we see Jesus on the Cross, we are confronted by the same scandal. The Cross reveals to us the incomprehensible depth of Divine Love. Abraham was prevented by an angel from consummating his sacrifice to God. An angel prevented him from killing Isaac: “Abraham, do not lay your hand on the boy!” But no one prevented the Father from consummating the offering of Jesus his Son. “He did not spare his Son but handed him over for us all.” The consummation of Jesus’ sacrifice manifests to us the incomprehensible depth of God’s love. To what extent was God willing to do in order to save us? This baffles even the mind of St. Paul who asks: “Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died for us.” Seeing how Christ suffered for us, we will say: I thought I have already seen everything…but I did not realize that it will be like this. (Hindi ko akalain na hahantong ang lahat sa ganito.) God will not spare even his only Son so that he might acquit us of our sins.

Indeed, the glory of Christ Crucified is the glory of God. The depth of Christ’s humiliation is the depth of God’s love. Thus, we have not known Christ until we know his suffering. The Cross truly scandalizes us but it opens up for us the true revelation of who Jesus is. Thus St. Paul would say, “I consider everything as rubbish except the knowledge of Jesus and him Crucified.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!