Mockery or Mystery?

They took Jesus and led him out, and carrying his cross, he went out to the place that is called Calvary (in Hebrew: Golgotha), where they crucified him” (Jn 19:17). Jesus went, then, carrying his cross, to the place where he was to be crucified. A great spectacle! If wickedness looks at it, a great mockery; if piety looks at it, a great mystery. If wickedness looks at it, a great example of disgrace; if piety, a great bulwark of faith. If wickedness looks at it, it laughs at the king bearing, instead of the rod of his reign, the wood of his punishment; if piety, it sees the king carrying the wood to which he would be fixed, the wood he was to fix on the foreheads of kings, he himself to be despised in the eyes of the wicked for that in which the hearts of the holy would one day boast. For Paul would write: “Far be it from me to boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:14). Jesus was commending that cross by carrying it on his own shoulder. He was bearing the candlestick for the lamp he was about to light, the lamp that must not be placed under a bushel basket. (In Ioannem 117, 3; PL 36, 1945-1946)

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.

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