I spoke with someone this morning, and at the end of our conversation, she said to me, “For the majority of my life, until the last two years, I had been told that Jesus was utterly alone on the Cross. I was told again and again, ‘He was totally abandoned and left to hang there in isolation.’ But when you told me that he was not alone, but was unceasingly held by the Father in this place, it changed everything for me. Everyone needs to know this.” She referred to a Trinitarian crucifix which portrays Jesus being held by the Father who stands behind the Cross, with the Spirit hovering as a dove between them, and she said, “We should put these in all of our churches. Then people would be able to see what really happened.”
This was so touching and so beautiful to hear. In response, I said, “Yes, Jesus was not alone. For that would be very sad indeed. If God himself is alone, then we are certainly alone too.” (She vehemently agreed with this.) “But,” I went on, “Jesus is not alone. Rather he is cradled between two kinds of intimacy: human and divine. He is a meeting-place, cradled between the intimacy of the Trinity and the intimacy of the human hearts who are close to him in this place. The Cross is a place of intimacy, not a place of isolation.”
How breathtakingly beautiful this is! For truly, Jesus is not alone on the Cross. The Passion and Death of Jesus is not a place of isolation, but rather a place in which solitude is transformed into the space of living encounter, of flowering intimacy, in which all aloneness is at last overcome through the undying presence of the divine Com-passion, through the very intimacy of the Trinity pouring out into the loneliest and darkest places of our creation, and there irradiating all with its healing and consoling light. Thus, to look upon the Crucified One is to see the very eternal intimacy of the Trinity breaking forth into the darkness of our world. To look upon the Crucified One is to see, naked and exposed before our eyes in vulnerable self-giving and tenderest acceptance, the Love that is stronger than all evil, suffering, and death. To look upon the Crucified One is to see the true hope of human intimacy made possible within the cradling embrace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a human intimacy that is brought to full flower precisely and only in the living space of redeeming grace. For here all the failing promises of human love, all the frail questionings of human desire, are taken up and perfectly fulfilled in the act of perfect loving affirmation of the Crucified Jesus, an affirmation that embraces, shelters, holds, and brings to fulfillment all that is beautiful, good, and true, even in the very place where it is most threatened with destruction.
And this human intimacy is truly brought to flower in the very place of the Cross, as the divine Trinity descending from heaven as a brilliant light shining in the deepest darkness is mirrored by a human trinity rising up to meet and to be immersed in this light. And the meeting place of these two “trinities” is the incarnate Person of the Son, living and loving and suffering and dying in his humanity, which is our humanity taken up and espoused to himself in undying love. Yes, for the Father and the Spirit are unveiled in the very crushed, bleeding, and tortured Body of the dying Christ, as his very humanity, laid bare before our eyes, witnesses to the only ultimate value that gives meaning to all things: love and intimacy within the sheltering embrace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And this is what the Son himself, eternally beloved of the Father, knows and experiences in this place, cradled as he is in the bosom of his Father and rejoicing in the beauty of undying intimacy with him, and breathing forth, in his very dying breath, the gift of the Spirit in loving surrender to his Father and to each one of us.
And this divine Trinity pouring out into our world and permeating all things meets the ascending trinity of redeemed humanity lifted up in the Crucified One who draws all to himself and makes us one within his reconciling Heart. For here the Son, manifested as the Bridegroom in his Incarnation and his Passion, takes into the intimacy of his nuptial embrace the Woman who is his bride, the Virgin Mary, and consummates with her the most blessed and profound intimacy in total mutual self-donation, in their shared belonging in the Love that is stronger than all. And from this very union of the Man and the Woman, of the Bridegroom-Son and his Daughter-Bride, is brought forth into the fullness of life the beloved disciple, who is the first fruit of their communion, the child of their love, the recipient of the spontaneous overflow of their gratuitous love and intimacy. Here we see reflected, in the most breathtakingly beautiful way, the very mystery of the eternal Trinity within the intimacy of human communion, within the trinity of Bridegroom, bride, and disciple-son, made radiantly transparent to the mystery of eternity through the redeeming grace of eternal Love.
And this mystery, consummated already in the total mutual self-giving and indissoluble intimacy of the Cross, is made manifest in radiant light in the Resurrection of Jesus, and will sweep us up definitively, too, when, at the end of time, we share in his Resurrection in our own flesh, and the whole of creation itself is made new within the innermost embrace of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yes, for here is the perfect fulfillment of undying communion in the face-to-face vision of the Risen Body of Jesus and of the very innermost Mystery of God, and the very permeation of humanity by divinity, utterly saturated by grace, by the very life and love of the Trinity, in which all of our longings for security, mutual belonging, and complete intimacy are brought to their full blossoming and their everlasting fulfillment.