Conceived in Anguish; Consummated in Glory

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anguish

Today we are invited by the Church to witness the climactic scene of human history–the moment on Calvary when Jesus, center of a triple trinity, gives over His Spirit and dies for us. The Holy Father recognizes that this is the central event of the cosmos: “God’s word is . . . spoken throughout the history of salvation, and most fully in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God.” Further, “Christ’s victory over death took place through the creative power of the word of God. This divine power brings hope and joy: this, in a word, is the liberating content of the paschal revelation. At Easter, God reveals himself and the power of the trinitarian love which shatters the baneful powers of evil and death.”

There is a triple trinity on Calvary: Standing by the cross were three women, three Mary’s. On the three crosses were three condemned men, Jesus, the repentant bandit we know as Dismas, and the unrepentant bandit whose name is lost to history. And, of course, Jesus, the God-man, was the second person of the divine trinity always present to us, but especially at this moment, when our redemption was being accomplished out of divine love.
To this scene Jesus summons John out of the crowd of onlookers. We think of John taking Mary to Calvary, but it appears that he was near, but not next to her. Mary’s support were the other two women, Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus had driven several demons. That was the harbinger of the victory he was about to snatch from the jaws of defeat. But first, Jesus was to create a Church, a new body for Himself on earth, and, like the Creator in Eden, breathe new life into her.

As if to make this even clearer, He addresses His mother as the new Eve: “Woman, behold your son.” Mary probably looked first to Jesus, her natural son. But she saw Jesus nodding to the young man who was coming near to her, and knew that Jesus had a double meaning. The natural son was being taken from her by the will of the Father; in His place there was to be this younger one, and a host of others, men and women, boys and girls, whom she was to mother. As Eve was ironically called “mother of the living,” when what she had bequeathed to them was death, so Mary, the new Eve, was the true mother of the living, because through this great sacrifice her Son was to earn for us true life, and everlasting union with God. Eve had torn us away from the Father; Mary’s “fiat” would bring us back to the Father.
So Jesus then told John, and all of us, “Son, here is your mother.” From that hour, John, and we, have taken her into our home. But, rather, she has taken us into her home, the Church.

Having done everything the Father willed, Jesus fulfilled a last prophecy. He had said at the Last Supper that He would no more take the fruit of the vine until all was fulfilled in the kingdom of God. The irony is that the fruit of the vine–our vine–had soured. So He took vinegar to slake His thirst for the fruit of our work. What we do without Him is corrupt. Even our best intentions, without the will of God, turn to ashes and vinegar. But He takes even that to redeem. He says “it is consummated–fulfilled and sends forth His Spirit. It is this Spirit that brings us together and makes us part of His Body. What was born in anguish will be raised in glory.

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