Crucifying Jesus

The chapel here at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh is lovely. Jutting out in the direction of the lake, it has three walls of windows, making the backdrop to Mass and other prayer services the beauty of the trees and the lake.

One of the first things that struck me the first day I went into the chapel – and that I continue to notice each time I walk in there – is the large crucifix of Jesus hanging on the wall. I’m not actually sure crucifix is the correct term, since there is no cross. The figure of Jesus is bolted directly to the wall, displayed in the way Jesus is typically depicted on the cross – arms outstretched, legs slightly bent, head hanging down in death.

I’m not sure what was intended by the artist or the retreat house in portraying the crucified Christ in this way, but what it said to me so clearly and loudly was: it doesn’t take wood and nails to crucify Jesus. We can (and do) crucify Jesus in so many ways and we don’t need a cross to do it.

When we fail to love. When we ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters. When we decide our agenda is more important than God’s. When we live with an attitude of entitlement and arrogance rather than gratitude and humility. All of these acts crucify Jesus.

The ways we crucify Jesus are easy for us to miss or to explain away. They don’t, after all, vividly display the dramatic cruelty of hammering nails into hands and feet. But they cause the same pain to Jesus as a physical crucifixion.

Something to think about.