I experienced a disturbing thought while conducting historical research for the Pilgrim Center of Hope soon-to-be-released Who is the Man of the Shroud? media series.
I was reading about daily life during the time of Jesus. It was horrifically brutal, especially if you happened to be a family member of, or had any dealings with, Herod or the Roman authorities. If you are a fan of the fantasy dramas so popular right now with medieval-like kings and queens acting very badly, you have an idea of the real terror people who lived during the time of Jesus constantly lived under.
As I read of the torture, betrayals, and deaths under Herod and Rome—from several decades before Jesus was born to several decades after he was crucified, I saw no visible difference between them. The men who reigned as Jewish kings and Roman authorities, and some very wicked women who influenced them, came and went but the brutality remained. This is what so disturbed me.
Searching For The Solution
I wondered, “What did Jesus actually accomplish?”
When I consider how violence has continued to terrorize every generation since the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became Man in Jesus Christ, my question remained; “What did Jesus actually accomplish?”
What is so awesome about being Catholic is that I know where to go to find the answer. I go to the Source of All Things, God himself, and I ask him.
Jesus remains with us in the Sacraments of the Church, through the Word (Scripture), and through the Holy Eucharist (in both the liturgy of the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament) where Jesus is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity. I do not have to seek a guru or summon spirits or call out to the wind for answers, and I do not have to give up that there is no answer.
Put Yourself In the Moment
In silent meditation before the Lord, I asked my disturbing question. I invite you into the contemplation that came and ask you to imagine the moment of our Lord’s death—that came after sweating blood during his agony in the garden caused by the burden of the sins of every person since the beginning of humanity to the end of time. Think of the pain endured from the hundreds of sharp bone-and metal-tipped whips that flagellated his body—top to bottom, front to back—at the scourging at the pillar. Then there was the crushing of the inches-long thorns crowned upon his head and through his skull, and the carrying of the heavy cross beam, and falling under its weight on the sweat-and blood-soaked rocks. Think of the pounding of the large nails through nerves and bones of wrists and ankles, which led to the humiliation of hanging on a cross naked—trying to desperately lift the body in order to take a breath. Compounding, and perhaps even more painful, imagine the many emotional hurts: the mockings, jeers and spitting, the blasphemies, the betrayals and abandonment by the very ones he called his friends.
Finally, death comes.
“He said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit” (John 19:30).
The Son of God came from heaven to save us, and we responded by putting him to death.
After Jesus died, his mother and just a handful of others took his body from the cross, wrapped it in a burial shroud, and placed it in a tomb. It is in this part of the contemplation that I realized the spirit of the Son of God was free of the body of Jesus in which he had incarnated.
Questions came to mind:
- Who would have faulted him for deciding then and there to return to his throne at the right side of the Father and be done with us?
- What would I have done if I were him?
What God did was, on the third day, he resurrected as Jesus Christ—sealing his spirit to his body for all eternity, fully God and fully man, so that every person for all time will have a fighting chance of living in eternal peace and goodness.
Did this divine sealing imprint his image onto the burial shroud that wrapped his body in the tomb?
We should continue to study the Shroud of Turin to discover how the image of the man mysteriously appears on it, but whether the shroud is ever proven as the authentic shroud of Christ or not has no bearing on the truth of what happened in, with, and through Jesus Christ: Love came to our rescue and He did not disappoint.
“What did Jesus actually accomplish?”
Jesus gave the world what it had irretrievably and irrevocably lost… hope!
Jesus came back for us just as he promised,
“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live” (John 14:18-19).
And to his disciples, Jesus calls us to help him lead others on his path of victory,
“To whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery; […] it is Christ in you, the hope for glory” (Colossians 1:27).
No one understands the mind of God nor are we capable in our finite, limited beings to grasp the fullness of the mystery of evil and why God allows it to continue to dwell among us and often reign in the world.
What we do know is Jesus Christ, our Hope, has defeated evil and is the Way through it… and so we Rejoice in Hope!
⭐ Celebrate and support Pilgrim Center of Hope at our annual fundraiser, the Rejoice in Hope! brunch at the Westin San Antonio North Hotel (formerly the Omni Colonnade) on Saturday, October 1, 2022. Hear more about the hope Jesus brings with talks by:
- Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of San Antonio & Licensed Counselor Supervisor, Most Rev. Gary Janak
- Documenting Photographer, Shroud of Turin Research Project & President, Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association, Barrie Schwortz
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, and motherhood, as a writer, Missionary of Hope, Prayer Intercessor, Speaker Team member, and Volunteer for Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.