Traditionally, we meditate on the Stations of the Cross every Friday, entering into Jesus’ suffering. The knowledge of God lowering Himself, taking on a human nature to join His creatures, humbles us. We remember St. Paul’s words, “though he was in the form of God, [He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself…being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:6-7)
The final station is Jesus’ deposition. It leaves us sorrowful, regretful, and filled with the deepest love and compassion. But we’re not done. Yes, Jesus died for our sins. But there’s more. No pamphlet on the Stations of the Cross stops there either. It includes a final prayer—a few words at the gravesite—anticipating more.
Our Redemption needs His Resurrection to be complete. God descended to die for us…then ascended to raise us up to new, eternal life with Him as His children.
In his book, Miracles, C.S. Lewis created two analogies of how God descends to claim us, then ascends with us.
“[Picture a] strongman stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift. He must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with a whole mass swaying on his shoulders.
[T]hink of a diver…rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay, then up again…his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface…, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover.” (179-180)
Jesus is that strong man who lifts us on his shoulders, that divine diver who found us among the decay. We are that precious thing He came to recover. He paid the price of our sins so that we may have eternal life with God. Just before the Last Supper, Jesus said, “For this purpose, I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. … I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:27b, 32).
We don’t believe in Jesus’ Resurrection because we would like to believe. We don’t believe in eternal life and redemption because we don’t like the idea of death. We believe in them because they are real and because Jesus confirmed their reality. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (Jn 11:25).
At Mass, we continue the movement of ascending and descending through the offering of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Jesus pours Himself and all the graces and merits He won on the Cross, into our souls in closest union:
“God is glorified by the Church through the ascending movement of the sacrificial offering of the Word made flesh, and man is sanctified in the Church through the blessing of Holy Communion with that life-giving and Spirit-imparting Body.” (Eucharist, Feingold, 403)
Jesus is not 2,000 years away but abides within our souls now. His Resurrection and redemption are ever new in the Holy Eucharist.