16. THE TIME HAS ARRIVED. The glory of the cross

The glory of the cross

1. Jesus´ evangelization had began in the periphery of the Jewish world, in Galilee, but its destination was Judea; and inside Judea, Jerusalem; and inside Jerusalem, the temple, the apple of the Jewish world’s eye, centre of the religious, politic and economic power. A risky and dangerous destination. It was already said by Jeremiah: “Your sword, like a destroying lion, devoured your prophets!” (Jer 2, 30). And also Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You murder the prophets and stone those sent to you by God.” (Mt 23, 37)

2. Nevertheless, it is necessary to go to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has no reason to be afraid: “Do not fear, city of Zion, see your king is coming sitting on the colt of a donkey.” (Jn 12, 15; Zec 9, 9 foll.) Jesus walks into Jerusalem humbly, peacefully. He does not come like the great of this world, in an impressive military march: he comes neither with Ephraim’s chariots, nor Jerusalem’s horses, or the warrior’s bow (Zec 9, 10). He comes without imposing himself in force.

3. The walk into Jerusalem ends in the temple. The temple is stained, it must be denounced: it should be “home of prayer for all people”, but it has become “cave of bandits” (Mk 11, 17; see Jer 7, 11). The temple must be purified; even more, the temple must be substituted (Jn 2, 13. 22). The new temple will be built “in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4, 24), with “living stones” (1 P 2, 5). Jesus is fully conscious that “the time has arrived” (Jn 13, 1).

4. The walk over the temple determines the process followed against Jesus. The high priests and the Sanhedrin (a board of 72 old men and scribes) were looking for a false testimony against Jesus and they did not find it: At last, two men came up and declared, “This man said: I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.” The High Priest then stood up and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer at all? What is this evidence against you?” But Jesus kept silent. So the High Priest said to him, “In the name of the living God, I command you to tell us: Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?” Jesus answered, “It is just as you say. I tell you more: from now on, you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Most Powerful God and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the High Priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has blasphemed. What more evidence do we need? You have just heard these blasphemous words. What is your decision?” They answered, “He must die!” (Mt 26, 5 – 66)

5. The Jews may not execute anyone (Jn 18, 31). They had their own autonomy, but the Romans controlled the strategic points: the appointment and destitution of the High Priest, the properties of the old men and the practice of the capital punishment. Jesus was taken to the Praetorium, so that the Roman authority ended the process. Governor Pontius Pilato did not find any crime in that man (Jn 18, 38; Lk 23, 22), but motivations of politic origin carried definitive weight upon him: the Jewish regional laws (Jn 19, 7) and Cesar’s friendship  (19, 12). Then he delivered him to them to be crucified. (19, 16). Corruption of religious and politic order resulted in Jesus´ crucifixion. Official cause of the sentence: Politic subversion. Over the cross they placed this poster: “Jesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews” (19, 19)

6. Jesus lives his passion and death like a baptism: “But I have a baptism to undergo and what anguish I feel until it is over!” (Lk 12, 50). In Psalm 69 it is said: “I have come into deep waters, swept and engulfed by the flood.” (Psalm 69, 3). And also: “Dishonour has driven me to despair; I looked for sympathy and there was none” (69, 21). In this way it is fulfilled in him what is written down: “They hated me without cause.” (Jn 15, 25)

7. The attentive disciple perceives the glory of the cross in the observance of the Scriptures. So happens in the distribution of the clothing (19, 23 – 24; Mt 27, 35; Mk 15, 24; Lk 23, 34), in the taunts of the adversaries (Mt 27, 39 – 44; Mk 15, 29 – 32; Lk 23, 35 – 37) and in the crucified thirst (Jn 19, 28; Mt 27, 48; Mk 15, 36; Lk 23, 36). Psalm 22 identification turns out simple (see Psalm 22, 7 – 9. 16. 19)

8. From midday to three o’clock  in the afternoon there was darkness over that region. About that time, Jesus shouted: My God, my God! Why have you abandoned me? (Mt 27, 46; Mk 15, 34). This is not a desperation cry, but the beginning of Psalm 22, the proclamation of the observance of the psalm in all what is happening. It is anguished prayer of the just man persecuted to death, but also a hopeful prayer: “O Lord, be not far from me! O my strength, come quickly to my help.” (Ps 22, 20)
9. Putting a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to his lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up the spirit (Jn 19, 30). Saint Luke adds that he died with a loud cry and saying: “Father, in your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23, 46; see Ps 31, 6). In this way Jesus goes down to the deepest  where a man can go: up to death and a death on the cross (Ph 2, 8)

10. What afterwards happened is proclaimed by Peter the Pentecost day as the centre of the Christian message: “Fellow Israelites, listen to what I am going to tell you about Jesus of Nazareth. God accredited him and through him did powerful deeds and wonders and signs in your midst, as you well know. You delivered him to sinners to be crucified and killed, and in this way the purpose of God from all times was fulfilled. But God raised him to life and released him from the pain of death… of which all of us are witnesses He has been exalted at God’s right side and the Father has entrusted the Holy Spirit to him; this Spirit he has just poured upon us as you now see and hear. (Acts 2, 22 – 33)

11. Jesus´ resurrection (his victory over the death) is inseparable of his ascension (his exaltation to
God´s right) and it is intimately tied to the mystery of Pentecost (the action of the spirit giving testimony in his favour). These are three aspects of a unique mystery, Jesus´ glorification. In the liturgy the three corresponding feasts are celebrated in the unitary context of the paschal time. In each one of them an important aspect of Christ´s paschal mystery is emphasized. Christ lives, but he is not another resurrected more. He is the Lord. We can acknowledge him by the gift of the spirit. Jesus´ path, which goes up to Jerusalem (Lk 9, 51; Ps 47, 6), ends in ascension (24, 51), the day of the Pasch. During forty days  (Acts 1, 3( the apostles take conscience of it. They need a preparation time (of teaching, prayer, communitarian experience of faith) before the beginning of their mission, with the strength of the spirit (see Lk 4, 2. 14)

12. Jesus passes from this world to the father (Jn 13, 1). He  leaves over the clouds of heaven, id est, in the manner of God. It is sung in Psalm 68: “Open way to that who rides on the clouds” (68, 5). That who had descended to the lowest, is raised to the highest: seated at the right of the Father (Mk 14, 62; Ps 110, 1) With this, Jesus does not abandon our world, but in a new manner, he makes himself present in it, according with what he said: “I leave and I shall come back to you” (Jn 14, 28). In his ascension, Jesus does not go to a far place, but he participates according to the way God is present in the middle of the world. The Kingdom of God takes place on the specific world in which we live

13. In the context of the Jewish Pasch, Jesus lives his death like a pass, like an exodus: “I have largely desired to eat this Pasch with you before suffering” (Lk 22, 15), The liberation and thanksgiving songs closing the Jewish Pasch celebration (Ps 113 – 118), acquire then a new sense. Jesus´ death, apparently a defeat, is really a victory, not only for him, but for the humanity and for the world: “The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it” (Ps 118, 22)

* Dialogue: About all this, are we witnesses too?


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