Holy Land Pilgrimage

The Crucified Christ

February 25, 2019

We recently had the chance to celebrate Mass at Calvary at 5:00 AM. Waking up at 4:00 AM reminded me of our Filipino tradition “Simbang Gabi” or Novena Mass for the birth of our Lord but this time it was a little bit different. It is not a Mass for the birth of Jesus but rather the opposite which is the Mass at the Calvary where he suffered and died on the cross. We are so privileged to walk around the Holy Sepulcher without bumping to anyone and to pray in silence. Before the celebration of the Holy Mass, I had a chance to pray at the place where he was crucified. Tears covered my eyes as I knelt before the altar where our Lord offered his life for our salvation.

As I was sitting on the floor looking at the place of crucifixion many thoughts came to my mind. What was the cause of death of Jesus? It could be many reasons. It could be tetanus from rusty nails, dying of thirst, wound when he was pierced on his side, or painful wounds on his back from flagellations by the soldiers. Medically speaking I don’t know the cause of his death. But I know one main reason of his death, it is love. It may not be tetanus, thirst, wound or flagellations but I am sure He died because he loves us and he wants to save us. And yes he did it! He conquered death and restored life so that we can have eternal life with him.

While I was kneeling down and praying I couldn’t help myself but to say sorry for everything I have done. Tears were dropping at the place where he was crucified. However, Bishop Villegas once said, “One perennial of this encounter is guilt. Sorrow for our sins and sadness for what we have done. Compunction in the heart and blaming ourselves because we have crucified the Lord.” But he reminded us as we approach the crucified Christ to not just say sorry to him but rather thank him. Say to the Lord “Thank you. Thank you because I have never been loved this way and I have never been appreciated this way.” Thank you Lord for calling me despite of my sinfulness and imperfections. Thank you for offering yourself and dying for our sins. Thank you for loving us.

Arthur Bautista

Archdiocese of Chicago

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