Kneeling and Looking at the Crucified Christ

crossThe following is a true story told by the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who retired as Archbishop of Paris in 2005, and died on August 5, 2007.

A retired priest sat enjoying the afternoon sun. He looked up suddenly to see the newly-ordained bishop of the diocese walking toward him.

“Father, may I sit with you a while?” The old priest was delighted, and struggled to get up and welcome his distinguished visitor.

“Father, I’d like to tell you a story. Some years ago, a group of college students who had spent the afternoon drinking were walking past a little church. Confessions were being heard inside. One of them came up with the idea to make a list of the worst things they could think of and confess them. It would be a riot, they thought, to see how the old priest reacts!

“But one of the guys said, “Seeing it’s your idea, put up or shut up. I bet you $20.00 you haven’t the guts to do it.’”

“Well, the first guy took up the challenge. A list of wild sins was drawn up and he went inside the confessional. He came out a few minutes later waving a piece of paper. ‘Pay me!’ he said. ‘Here’s proof that I’ve been to confession.’”

His friends asked what the paper was.

“It’s my penance.”

“Didn’t the priest say anything?”

“Nothing, he just gave me the paper.”

“Well, have you done your penance?”

“Don’t be silly. I’m not going to do any penance.”

“Oh, no, we don’t pay off until you do the penance. It’s not confession until the penance has been done.”

“So he went into the church and read the note: Kneel before the crucifix at the altar and repeat 10 times – ‘All this you did for me and I don’t give a damn.’ No problem, the guy thought, and knelt before the altar. But he couldn’t do it. He saw the nailed hands and the infinite sadness in the eyes of the crucified Christ.”

“A half hour later, his friends wondered what had happened to him and went inside. They found him crying like a baby at the foot of the sanctuary.”

The bishop then told the old priest: “I wanted to tell you that story because I was that young college student and you were the priest. Thank you.”

We often have the opportunity to be the “voice of God’s Son” that can bring life to someone who is dying to sin, fear or isolation. But, do we allow ourselves to be his voice, or do we simply say nothing?

As we continue to journey through Lent, consider taking some time this week to really look at the crucified Jesus on the cross and repeat 10 times, “All this you did for me .  .  .” and see where it takes you.

Question – How are you a little different today because of the voice of God’s Son that others have been for you?


March 11th, 2015 |