Thoughts for the day
And we have seen him, and he had no beauty nor comeliness (Is 53:2). Was our bridegroom ugly, then? Of course not.... It was to those persecuting him that he appeared ugly; if they had not thought him ugly, they would not have attacked him, they would not have beaten him with whips, they would not have crowned him with thorns, they would not have dishonored him with spit. They did all these things because he seemed ugly to them. They did not have eyes to see why he is beautiful. To what eyes does Christ appear beautiful? The kind of eyes Christ himself sought when he said to Philip: Have I been with you so long, and you still do not see me (Jn 14:9)? They are the eyes that have to be cleansed so that they can see that light, the eyes that when even slightly touched by his splendor, become inflamed with love and desire to be healed and enlightened. That you may know that Christ is beautiful, the prophet says of him: More beautiful than all the sons of men (Ps 44:3). His beauty surpasses all men.What is it that we love in Christ? His crucified limbs? His pierced side? Or his love? When we hear that he suffered for us, what do we love? We love his love. He loved us so that we would love him in return, and so that we might love him in return, he has come to us with his Spirit. (Augustine, Enar. in Ps 127, 8)
And thoughts for the day from Newman:
It is the death of the Eternal Word of God made flesh, which is our great lesson how to think and how to speak of this world. His Cross has put its due value upon every thing which we see, upon all fortunes, all advantages, all ranks, all dignities, all pleasures; upon the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It has set a price upon the excitements, the rivalries, the hopes, the fears, the desires, the efforts, the triumphs of mortal man. It has given a meaning to the various, shifting course, the trials, the temptations, the sufferings, of his earthly state. It has brought together and made consistent all that seemed discordant and aimless. It has taught us how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, what to desire, what to hope. It is the tone into which all the strains of this worlds music are ultimately to be resolved. (Newman, "The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World," Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. VI, 84-85)
The seventh of Newman's Lectures of Justification ends with a reflection on the necessity of our appropriating the cross of Christ. Two brief excerpts:
So also justification is wholly the work of God; it comes from God to us; it is a power exerted on our souls by Him, as the healing of the Israelites was a power exerted on their bodies. The gift must be brought near to us; it is not like the Brazen Serpent, a mere external, material, local sign; it is a spiritual gift, and, as being such, admits of being applied to us individually. Christ's Cross does not justify by being looked at, but by being applied; not by as merely beheld by faith, but by being actually set up within us, and that not by our act, but by God's invisible grace. Men sit, and gaze, and speak of the great Atonement, and think this is appropriating it; not more truly than kneeling to the material cross itself is appropriating it. Men say that faith is an apprehending and applying; faith cannot really apply the Atonement; man cannot make the Saviour of the world his own; the Cross must be brought home to us, not in word, but in power, and this is the work of the Spirit. This is justification; but when imparted to the soul, it draws blood, it heals, it purifies, it glorifies. ...Our crosses are the lengthened shadow of the Cross on Calvary. (Newman, Lectures on Justification, 177)
About the Author
Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.