It was our sins he bore
Over and over again in today’s reading of the Passion from Saint John we will see the actors in the crucifixion of Jesus referred to as the Jews. And for a long time, these words of the gospel were used to justify much unjust discrimination against the Jews. Various prayers were said in many Christian traditions which implied the Jews bore responsibility for the killing of Jesus. It was not our sins that put Jesus on the cross, but the Jews.
Not only is this wrong, the unjust vandalism, persecution and murder of Jews that has been so present that the message needs to be stressed again and again. It was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. It was for love of us that Jesus was on the cross. Were it not for our sins, Jesus would not have had to died, for the original plan of God would have been fulfilled.
So it was not the Jews who killed Christ. Rather, all humans did. We all did. Everyone of us. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Of course the Blessed Mother is a separate human who we believe did not sin.)
It is quite important to note that none of us are able to blame anyone other than ourselves. And in our weakness and sin all we can do is throw ourselves on the mercy of God, and to pray for every imaginable intention. For Jesus took upon himself all of our sins. And, even more. Even though he himself did not and could not sin, he bore on himself all of our sinfulness, and felt the separation all this sinfulness causes us to have.
And at that moment Jesus uttered, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It was not because Jesus sinned, but rather in love he took on the weight of our sins. In his human nature, Jesus bore the weight of sinful humanity.
What does all this mean for us? We are to blame for the death of Jesus for our sins. The unmerited and underserved forgiveness of Jesus must compel us to forgive. Just as Jesus was the innocent victim, we must acknowledge that we do not know or understand the situation of many, and so we must not judge those we do not know.
Rather than take pride in our accomplishments, like the Pharisee in the front of the Temple, we must recognize that accepting God’s grace means being like the tax collector in the back. We must admit that we have made a real mess of our lives, and only Jesus can save us. So, with this tax collector, we say the only words we can truthfully utter: “Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.”
On the friar, you can listen to our homilies (based on the readings of the day) and reflections. You can also ask us to pray for you or to pray for others. You can subscribe to our website to be informed whenever we publish an update.