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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts his death on the cross.

We are meant to see on that cross not simply a violent display but rather our own ugliness. What brought Jesus to the cross? Stupidity, anger, mistrust, institutional injustice, betrayal of a friend, denial, unspeakable cruelty, scapegoating, fear, etc. In other words, all of our dysfunction is revealed on that cross. 

So far so awful. But we can’t stop telling the story at this point. Dante and every other spiritual master know that the only way up is down. When we live in convenient darkness, unaware of our sins, we will never make spiritual progress. So we need the light, however painful it is. But then we can begin to rise. 

On the cross of Jesus, we meet our own sin. But we also meet the divine mercy that has taken that sin upon himself in order to swallow it up. We have found, in that cross, the way up. We want to hold up this thing that was considered too horrible to look at. We want to embrace and kiss the very source of our pain.