Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” Luke 23:18
As our world descends deeper into chaos and lawlessness, I cannot help but think that we as a people are shouting, “Release Barabbas”, as truth gets persecuted. The interesting thing to me is that the name Barabbas, it means, son of the Father. It is one more way we know that God is totally in control, even in what looks like chaos, even in the midst of the suffering and sorrow. In this act of releasing Barabbas, we are made to know who we are, sons and daughters of the Father. Barabbas’ release represents all of us who were and who are about to be delivered. Prisoners to our sin, the cross frees us when we embrace it, that is, we repent and receive the love the Father has always offered. The love He granted to us by gifting His Son who was obedient unto death. He didn’t have to do this, but He did. They shouted release Barabbas and he was released while the innocent God took the penalty. He did this personally for you too.
As we watch the church be crucified in so many ways today, we can know that this too is necessary. We are the bride of Christ and God is trying to reveal to us our true identity. Currently, our world is confused about identity. We put labels on everything and everyone. We market everything and speak words of tolerance and equity. But God doesn’t speak like that and doesn’t label us like that. It is a twisting of truth. God simply loves us. And so we must be purged of anything that isn’t love, purged of all these untruths. This purging is extremely painful. As what we have become is revealed to us, it becomes increasingly harder to watch. Most of us feel like running away. The story sounds familiar.
I was reading the Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Servant of God Louisa Piccarreta. In hour 17 she states, “the Angels, the Saints, and hell as well, all cry out in unanimous voice: ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ in such a way, that there is no one who wants you alive. And O, O, to my greater confusion, pain, and astonishment, I find myself forced by a supreme power to cry out as well: ‘Crucify Him.'”
You see, without this crucifixion, we remain prisoners like Barabbas was before Jesus came along because we are all guilty of sin. We all deserve death for continuing to offend the infinitely good God who wants us to trust in His love. Suffering feels like hell and at times can try your faith, make you feel like you’re losing it. Don’t let hell defeat you and steal your faith. At the crucifixion, hell thought that they were defeating God. Heaven knew this was the path to salvation. But God wants even more than just salvation for us. He wants restoration.
As scared as I often get, glancing through the headlines, I turn to the Lord and shout, “crucify me.” I want my sin purged out of me. When my sin is revealed and I can see it, it is a great mercy. This always hurts. It is a great suffering, but like Louisa, I feel compelled to shout, “crucify me.” That is to say, “show me my sin and glance at me with your mercy, like you did to Peter.” One glance of mercy makes me turn back to love. Because of the Sacraments, particularly confession and the Eucharist, I have come to know love. It is only this love, born of sanctifying grace poured out from the Father, through the Son, in union with the Holy Spirit, that will change our society. Love is what our identity was made to be, all else must be purged.
As the world has turned away from the Sacraments, confusion about identity has grown exponentially in the world. The devil spews lies about who you are. He spews them so you will reject your intellect, your body and even your good memories, leaving you in a heaping pile of bitterness and resentment. His ultimate goal, for you to lose your soul. The devil tries to convince you that you are your sin. When you cannot separate yourself from your sin, you become like Judas, lost to pride and eventually to despair. God knows exactly who He made you to be. He does not conflate your identity with your sin.
The tale of Peter and Judas is the tale of two betrayers. Both become confused about the plan of God. One turns back to mercy, and with a glance, Peter was crucified, wept bitterly, was saved and restored. He regained his identity. But Judas, he lost his identity. Scripture tells us it would have been better that he not be born (Matthew 26:24). Losing your identity as a loved son or daughter of God, well it’s like burning your insides up with the fires of hell. Though we don’t ultimately know where Judas ended up, for God decided that, we can know that Peter chose the better path. I often think about how many times Peter screws up in the Gospels. There are more stories of Him doing wrong than any of the others. And yet, he was chosen to lead. Peter leads us because his acceptance of mercy, over and over again, gave him His true identity. God had bigger plans for him than he had for himself and God’s plans were realized because of the acceptance of mercy.
When we ask God to crucify us, our sin is revealed and mercy pours out. As we head into the Easter Triduum, try to wrap your head around the fact that all of time is held within these three days. The story of Salvation history is your story. God wants your story to be one of resurrection and so He asks that you embrace your cross and follow Him. That act on the cross 1990 years ago, is here for you now in these three days. It is represented everyday in the Mass. There is much to weep bitterly over these days, but weep with hope in the resurrection. God is love and He is forming you into love, if only you will let Him.
Have a Happy and Holy Easter Season. God Bless you all.
Thank you for this reflection. There is so much during the Triduum to reflect on. I have been reading Luisa’s Passion Hours as well. Her intimacy with our Lord is so beautiful and He wants that for all of us.
Have a Blessed Easter
As an English professor, I admire your clear line of running prose, but it is far more important to thank you for this, and every reflection you have written for all of us in recent years. I know there is a silence, perhaps a solitude to maintaining a blog with care, but we are here reading you, and you are making us stronger as you model living the Divine Will in a world that is truly burning.
Thanks Jeff. I know my writing and grammar are not usually the best. I know I make mistakes a lot. I do hope I make my points clear. I appreciate your comments so much. Thank you so much. Have a holy Triduum.
Ha! Don’t worry, I am a poetry person, not a grammarian. I run a series at my state college called Verse Like Water, and here is a present for everyone…I will be introducing this great poet at the end of the month. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fjKS0mFHGQ&ab_channel=DodgePoetry
Oh my gosh, so so funny!!! I love that.
Thank you, Susan! I appreciate your sharing and encouraging words. God bless you and wishing you a joyful Easter season 🙏🏻
I am so grateful for your posts all these years. I don’t often comment, but I read every one, and I just wanted to say thank you for your “yes” to do this blog. The Holy Spirit has used your writings to answer questions and prayers for me and to help me in my own walk with Him. I remember about 3 years ago I wrote in with a question and you directed me to Ephesians and reading God’s word more. Well, I did that. And I’ve had a practice of reading His word each day since then and, wow, did so much inner healing happen for me. God is so good! I still have such a long way to go on this journey, but I am grateful to you and thought I should let you know. I hope you have a Happy Easter season, too.
Thank you. I am so glad you delved into God’s word! Have a Blessed Easter.
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Like so many of your readers I feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me through your blog. I suffered a stroke on August 20 2022. At the time I was a full time caregiver to my 91 yr old mother and my disabled 67 yr old sister. As you can imagine it’s been a rough 8 months. But I thank God for you and your words of inspiration. You’ll never know how much you’ve helped me. God bless you Susan Skinner.
Oh my goodness. I will say a prayer for you. God bless you too.
Thank you Susan💖. That means a lot to me💕. Please continue writing. God bless🙏💖.