On Saturday I was taking some things to be recycled, and in the large dumpster there I saw that someone had thrown away a crucifix. I fished it out and sadly looked upon the broken body. The right arm of the corpus had been severed, which is probably why the person threw it away, but the image haunted me as I gently dusted it off and put it in my car.
In my prayer the next morning, I sat with this damaged crucifix and reflected on it quite a bit. It was no coincidence that I found this right as we begin Holy Week — the special time of year when we reflect on what Jesus did for us. He suffered a horrible death, sacrificing himself to the bitter end, so that we might have life and have it to the full.
Yet how do we respond? How does this world respond?
Do we throw Jesus away? Or do we try to “recycle” him, keeping him at bay but where we can still have access to him later if we get really desperate?
What place do I give him in my life?
Right arm missing
The right arm of the body on this crucifix was severed. I reflected on how traditionally the right hand is used in blessings and greetings. The priest blesses us at the end of every Mass or when he gives absolution after our confessions, usually using his right arm. When people greet one another, it is almost always the right hand that is offered for a handshake.
What was the message here?
Jesus longs to bless his people. He deeply desires to greet us and have friendship with us. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me,” he tells us in Revelation 3:20. But how many of us, even those of us who claim we are Christians, actually hear his knock and let him in? How deep or meaningful is our friendship with God?
This disfigured image spoke to me of how we “sever” the Lord’s ability to bless us when we shut him out of our hearts and ignore his knocking.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37
Prayer for others
As I gazed at this image, my prayer became a plea for those who reject Jesus or who are alienated from God.
“Jesus, have mercy on those who don’t yet know the depths of your love for them. Please keep blessing our poor, wounded world, even when we reject you time and time again. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.”
I wanted to share more deeply in Christ’s thirst for souls and in his longing that we all experience his love and redemption.
When I first rescued this crucifix, my intent was to see if we could “fix it up” and restore it. But after being so deeply affected by praying with it, I decided to leave it as it is and find an honored place to hang it. I want it to be a reminder to pray for the wounded Body of Christ, to intercede for those who are far from experiencing the blessing of friendship with God, and to remember how deep is the love that Jesus has for us and that he showed us from the Cross.
A Holy Week Invitation
As we enter into Holy Week, I invite you to pray with this image and see what the Lord might speak into your heart through it.
Share with us your insights in the comments below.