Compassion! — William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Indeed, God has revealed that His love for man, for each one of us, is boundless: on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God made man, shows us in the clearest possible way how far this love reaches, even to the gift of Himself, even to the supreme sacrifice.
With the mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection, God plumbs to the depths of our humanity to bring it back to Him, to uplift it to His heights.
Faith is believing in this love of God that is never lacking in the face of human wickedness, in the face of evil and death, but is capable of transforming every kind of slavery, giving us the possibility of salvation. Having faith, then, is meeting this “You”, God, Who supports me and grants me the promise of an indestructible love that not only aspires to eternity but gives it; it means entrusting myself to God with the attitude of a child, who knows well that all his difficulties, all his problems are understood in the “you” of his mother.
—Pope Benedict XVI,
General Audience 24 Oct. 2012: The Year of Faith: what is faith?
My Divine Saviour, what didst Thou become, when for love of souls Thou didst suffer Thyself to be bound to the pillar? Ah! how truly then was fulfilled the word of the Prophet, saying of Thee that from head to foot Thou shouldst be all one wound, so as to be no longer recognisable! What shame Thou didst endure when they stripped Thee of Thy garments! What torments Thou didst undergo in that tempest of countless blows! In what torrents did Thy Most Precious Blood gush forth from Thy bursting veins!
I know well it was not so much the injustice of the Roman governor and the cruelty of the soldiers that scourged Thee as my sins. O accursed sins, that have cost Thee so many pains! Alas, what hardness of heart, when notwithstanding Thy manifold sufferings for me I have continued to offend Thee! But from this day forth it shall be so no longer. United to Thee by bonds of loyalty for ever, as long as I shall live, I shall seek to satisfy Thine offended justice. By the pains Thou didst suffer when bound to the pillar, by the scourges which tore Thine innocent Flesh, by the Blood which Thou didst shed in such abundance, have mercy on this unhappy soul of mine; deliver me today and always from the snares of the tempter; and when I have come to the end of my exile, bring me safely home to Heaven with Thee.
Behold me at Thy feet, O Jesus of Nazareth, behold the most wretched of creatures, who comes into Thy presence humbled and penitent! Have mercy on me, O Lord, according to Thy great mercy! I have sinned and my sins are always before Thee. Yet my soul belongs to Thee, for Thou hast created it, and redeemed it with Thy Precious Blood. Ah, grant that Thy redeeming work be not in vain! Have pity on me; give me tears of true repentance; pardon me for I am Thy child; pardon me as Thou didst pardon the penitent thief; look upon me from Thy throne in Heaven and give me Thy blessing.
—Prayer Before the Crucifix from the Raccolta, the collection of indulgenced prayers
The Crucifixion — Agnolo Gaddi, c. 1390
Who could deny that [Peter’s] approach illustrates the constant temptation for Christians, indeed, for the Church: to seek victory without the Cross? Thus it is that his weakness, his threefold denial, has to be held up to him. No one is strong enough to travel the entire path of salvation unaided. All have sinned, all need the Lord’s mercy, the love of the Crucified One.
—Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two
In living out the Gospel and in suffering for it, the Church, under the guidance of the apostolic preaching, has learned to understand the mystery of the Cross more and more, even though ultimately it is a mystery that defies analysis in terms of our rational formulae. The darkness and irrationality of sin and the holiness of God, too dazzling for our eyes, come together in the Cross, transcending our power of understanding. And yet in the message of the New Testament, and in the proof of that message in the lives of the saints, the great mystery has become radiant light.
—Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth
La Crucifixion — Simon Vouet, 17th century
Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon, France.
The incarnate obedience of Christ is presented as an open space into which we are admitted and through which our own lives find a new context. The mystery of the Cross does not simply confront us; rather, it draws us in and gives a new value to our life.
—Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two