When viewing an image of Christ crucified, the physical sufferings of Christ are evident. He is typically portrayed in agony. His body physically distorted. His wounds gruesomely depicted in great detail. Commentaries have described the brutality of His crucifixion in great detail. The image of Christ crucified and commentaries assist in meditating on His great sacrifice.
In addition to His physical sufferings, Christ suffered mental anguish, as seem in His prayer on the Mount of Olives. Judas Iscariot has betrayed Him, and His remaining disciples are beginning to abandon Him, for they cannot remain awake to pray with Him.
When I meditate upon Christ crucified, I meditate upon the mental anguish He suffered. This is how I unite myself with His sufferings. I unite the pain I have endured from betrayal and abandonment by loves ones who I loved and trusted. Such betrayal and abandonment pierces the heart, chills the marrow, and mortifies the spirit.
When I envision Christ crucified, I envision Him looking down from the cross. Of the twelve, He sees only John. The other eleven who He shared the three years of His ministry with, who swore their allegiance to Him, who He had placed His trust in, are nowhere to be seen. The betrayal and abandonment by His disciples must have pained Him as much as the nails that pierced His hands and feet.
The pain Christ bore on the cross was the pain of sin. I see my sin as betrayal of Christ, an abandonment of Him. This is also how I see the eternal agony I will endure, if I do not repent from my sin. My sinful abandonment of Christ separates me from him. This is when I call upon him, ask for forgiveness in His great sacrament of reconciliation, and enjoy the great joy of His mercy and returning to Him.
I was thinking about this very thing yesterday, about the spiritual suffering, specifically — that which Christ underwent, and that which we may undergo even here, at times, as when, yes, we feel betrayed or we feel bereft of God, or when satan has carefully, craftily convinced us God can’t stand us or that we’ve blown the last chance. One can turn to others, but they shall have nothing for our medicine. And, I don’t know if you’ve ever been buzzed by hell (not just evil, but something from hell itself), but especially then is when we know there is no saviour but Jesus. Can anyone imagine an eternity of the cold, hate-filled Christlessness of hell? And can anyone imagine Christ’s staring down hell itself — on our behalf — both in the Garden and then on the Cross? (Perhaps not even His mother understood all of what was going on at that time.) Ugh. Thank You, Jesus. And a good post, Michael, worthy of a couple of re-reads.
Beautiful further insight. Greatly appreciated!