He Did It Out Of Love
In this beautiful homily for The Feast of Christ the King, Year C, Father Hanly looks at the Crucifixion and why Christ had to die this way.
Readings for The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year C
- First Reading: Second Samuel 5:1-3
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
- Second Reading: Colossians 1:12-20
- Gospel: Luke 23:35-43
Today when I look upon the old and battered crucifix hanging on my office wall, I think of the Feast of Christ the King and how a little old lady many years ago wandered into my office carrying the large broken crucifix and wanting to know how to dispose of it without hurting Jesus’s feelings. I took the crucifix from her with Our Saviour’s torn and twisted body, thanked her and assured her I’d take good care of Him on her behalf. And so I have.
Simone Weil was a brilliant Jewish Philosopher, and many would also add a ‘Christian Mystic’. She died before the close of the 2nd World War, and while she was never baptized, she was, by those who knew her, a woman of great heart and deep spiritual love, not only for the poor and the needy, but especially for Jesus of Nazareth, our King and our Lord. She would spend hours praying before a crucifix and after her short life she was honoured as a saint by the many Catholics who knew her well and read her books.
One day a priest friend asked her in his church after prayer: “Simone, what do you see when you look upon Jesus on the cross?” And she answered: “I see God’s apology for all the pain.” An extraordinary response and a wonderful understanding.
No, God could not take away the pain in life without depriving us all of our freedom, and He had, indeed, created us not for bondage and slavery but for freedom. And while he couldn’t take away our pain, there was one thing he could do, which was to share our pain.
And that is what His Son has come to do, to take on human flesh, to accept and assume the terrible vulnerability of becoming a human being, which, in the end, meant he had to suffer and humbly endure the shame of dying on the cross, offering up his life for all of us, sacrificing himself for us for our healing and salvation.
Yes, in our hearts we may wonder, “How could God His Father allow this to happen? How could He look down upon His Only Son: mocked, stripped of his clothing, scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to the cross, the most degrading and shameful of all executions.
And Jesus looked down from the cross at all the people gathered there, then, looking up to heaven, said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Never again will we have to ask the reason why: Why did God have to suffer so? For we already knew the answer from the moment we became followers of our Lord.
He did it out of love. He did it out of love for you and for me. For it is written in the Bible: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that everyone who believes in him shall have eternal life”!
And there was also another reason why… another reason why our Lord Jesus had to suffer and to die. Because he, too, did it out of love for us. From that time on, when looking into the eyes of our crucified Messiah, we could truly say: “Yes! See how he loves us, and how he understands.”
My brothers and sisters, it is out of the crucifixion of our Lord and Saviour that we learn love, how to love each other.
It is out of the pain and sorrow of the cross, that we have learned from God Himself, for He has sacrificed His only Son, who in turn gave himself over to death that we, all of us, might live a new life, and not only in heaven, but a new life here and now in this world.
For we are not only called to live in this world, but we are called to change this world … into a world full of faith and trust, a world in which new hope is born every day and, above all, to make of it a world full of God’s self-sacrificing love.
All hail to God our Father and, today, all hail to Christ our King!