by Ken Rolheiser
The view from up on the Cross

I got to be up on the cross once. My first reaction might have been, “Hey, I can see Peter’s house from here.” I was filling in for the actor playing Jesus in The Mystery of the Passion of Christ play performed for some ten years by a Canora and district group of players.

Other thoughts inspired me from the cross. I recalled the final scene of Mel Gibson’s the Passion of the Christ, showing a giant tear drop falling to earth. I’ve often thought of that view from heaven when flying in a jet and seeing Mother earth below. If we could see our lives from there, what would we see?

I thought of key phrases that reflect what is most profound in our lives. If we could frequently recall those words that remind us of eternity and all the promises of Faith, Hope and Love, what impact it would have on our lives! “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

One plea from Dismas was enough to get the response from Jesus: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Could not one phrase, one plea in English, Latin or German, the languages I learned to pray in, be enough to effect a similar response from Jesus at the hour of my death? Pater Noster! (Our Father!)

The phrase Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy) comes to mind. As we continue our everyday lives after Good Friday and Easter Sunday, a song echoes in my mind: “Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel / Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night.” (John Lang and Mr. Mister lyrics)

“God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” (Luke 18:13). “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). At its core, mercy is forgiveness. We ask for mercy, not justice. Jesus has paid it all.

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed” (Matthew 8:8). And Jesus cured the Centurian’s servant because of his great faith. In our brokenness we ask for healing. 

“Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 43:1). Jesus has created a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17) and given us a new covenant. We can face adversity knowing that we are redeemed. “Fürchte dich nicht, denn ich habe dich erlöst”(Isaiah 43:1).

Of course we have our favorite Christmas message from the French carol Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes translated into English as “Angels We Have Heard On High”. And we sing it in celebration at High Masses “Glory to God in the Highest!” And we remember the hymn of the Angels at Bethlehem: " Gloria in excelsis Deo".

This time of Lent may have us remembering more penitential messages, equally effective in calling out to Jesus or our Father after the Ash Wednesday message: “Remember that you are dust and into dust you shall return.” “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us!”

There are more pleasant reminders we can pray over one thousand times a year if we simply say, before meals, Bless us O Lord and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy goodness…” And we may respond after the meal: “We give You thanks, almighty God, for all these benefits, who lives and reigns…”

(574 words)