|Eleventh Station of the Cross|
by Fr. Donald Walpole, O.S.B.
Disjointed are all my bones. This is the English translation of the Latin inscription above—a line from Psalm 21. Here, paradoxically, are two realities enfolded into one vital and undeniably great mystery (cf. 1 Timothy 3:16).
First, the disjointed Body of Christ, in all our human brokenness and disfigurement, is powerlessly fastened to the wood of the cross. Our humiliating enslavement to Sin and Death is on full display in the Son of God, who emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness (cf. Philippians 2:7).
Perhaps we focus too much on our own personal, individual failures without considering the fact that we are also enslaved by the dominion of Sin and Death, rendering us both victim and unwitting accomplice. Here is disjointed humanity in all its ugliness: poverty and greed, abuse, addiction, disease, discrimination, indifference, conflict, and so forth. In one way or another, these are things that oppress and paralyze us. Yet, we also perpetuate them unknowingly in myriad and complex ways. As the martyred Prior of Our Lady of Atlas in Algeria wrote before his kidnapping and death by terrorists in 1996, “I share in the evil which seems, alas, to prevail in the world, even in that which would strike me blindly.”
Liberation from this fallen state is not humanly possible. So, this first reality is joined to another, more powerful, yet hidden, mystery that continues to unfold within the Body of Christ. The Son of God overcomes the enslaving power of Sin and Death by taking it upon himself.
Paradoxically, in the words of St. Augustine, he defeats “death by undergoing death himself, sin by identifying himself with sin.” By allowing himself to be fastened to the cross, Christ gives us his life, so that we may be saved by becoming his Body, offered up for the entire world. In the end, Sin and Death, by the supreme dominion of the Holy Trinity, are left powerless, nailed to the cross—while Christ’s tomb remains empty.
Let us pray:
Father of Mercy, forgive us. We know not what we do. From hidden faults forgive us. Deliver us from all evil, that all our disjointed bones may exult in the resurrected Body of your Son, Jesus Christ, who was lifted up from the earth in order to draw everyone to himself (cf. Luke 23:34; Psalm 18:13; Matthew 6:13; Psalm 50:10; John 12:32).