Friday, April 24, 2009

Novena for Fr. Jaki - Fourth Day

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

We adore Thee o Christ and we bless thee.
Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

The physiological details of the crucifixion have been set forth so well by the author, a physician, of A Doctor at Calvary as to make amateurish to add anything to what he had presented. Suffice it so say that his studies traumatized him to the point that in the end he was unable to endure the sight of a crucifix. Others have chosen for less respectable reasons to change the corpus on the cross into a glorified body. They thought that it was possible to claim the glory of heaven without going through the crucible of suffering. Worse, they thought that this was a good theology.

Compared with these dubious strategies, far more theology should seem to be incorporated in at times nonartistic representations of Christ as he hangs on the cross. In defense of them one should refer to Grünewald's famed triptych. With red splashes all over his body, Jesus is shown real he always was, whether in the stable in Bethlehem, or with whip in his hand as he was chasing the merchants out of the Temple precincts, or sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. This last detail troubled so much some early copyists of Luke's Gospel as to leave it out. They were just as mistaken as that champion of the "new" theology, who emphasized Christ's agony so much as to conclude that he lost his awareness of being the Son of God and therefore did not remain in uninterrupted possession of beatific vision.

Here too Christian truth is like a coin, which, if real, must have two sides to it and both sides must be asserted, contradictory as they may appear. They are merely very mysterious when it comes to the unity of two natures, one fully divine, the other fully human, in one divine person. This is not something for psychology, let alone to its depth kind, which is one of the most shallow preoccupations. It should suffice to say that the fully human nature of Christ had to experience death in all its reality. And it is a terrible reality which escapes those who want to die in "dignity," through assisted suicide. It is only because Jesus endured death in its gruesome fullness that he could become a comfort to all who die with their gaze, physical or spiritual, fixed on the crucifix. It is still the best compendium of theology as put by more than one saint.

As for his burial, it was a thumping proof of the fact that the body taken down from the cross was really a dead body. It would be tempting to dwell on the pain of those who washed in a hurry Jesus' bruised body, and carried it into a newly hewn tomb nearby. As the huge stone was rolled into the tomb's opening the feeling must have been which one experiences when faced with something totally irreversible. Humanly speaking that Master was dead once and for all.
[Jaki, The Apostles' Creed: a Commentary]


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