God’s Justice

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing [a]idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, [b]and whatever is right you will receive.’

“So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they [c]complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For[d] many are called, but few chosen.” – Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus taught in Parables so those hearing Him could understand better. For the parable was an indirect way to reference God. Each worker arrived at the work sight at different times during the day. All agreed with the owner what the wage would be for each of them. The first, however was clear that it would be a day’s wage. The other were told that they would receive what was right. The controversy started when the wage was paid and the last who worked one hour received the same as those who worked longer or for the entire day.

Since we’re talking about God, who doesn’t have a bank account, or concern over money, he can pay as He chooses. Those who worked in the fields were doing what the owner asked of them. When we do what God asks of us, we are doing his will. Each of us, worker or faithful, are doing the will of the owner or fulfilling the will of God. The worker is paid with a denarius while we the faithful are paid with God’s greatest gift, eternal life. And does not the denarius represent eternal life? Do you believe that the person who has been faithful his whole life and has done God’s will would begrudge another who may have converted to God on his death bed the same? The contester should hope that the mercy shown to the death bed convert is also shown to him for his selfish response. So trite will the concerns be over who got what, when each is in God’s House. For the least and worst of human natures are not resolved but dissolved when enfolded in the love of God. Where one finds what has been sought by mankind since “The Fall”, perfect love, absolute truth and life everlasting.

Now some might argue that the last workers might have on hearing of the generous nature of the owner decided to hide out and show themselves at the late hour likely to get more than would have been expected. As the death bed convert contrives to use God’s mercy as a get out of jail fee card. Do you think God, unlike the owner, has not the ability to look into one’s mind and heart and determine if they are honest or trying to play God? After all He said I knew you when you were in the womb. We are because He is. God sees in us what is or is not of Himself.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”Puk, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Who Are We?

In our present-day dilemma of finding it difficult to define a baby, it is no wonder that we find difficulty in defining a man or a woman.

Features of a baby in the womb and those of the baby beyond birth.

To bring some clarity, I hope, I offer the writings of Rudyard Kipling and J.P. McEvoy.

“IF” by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Female version of Kipling’s “If” by J.P. McEvoy

If you can hear the whispering about you
And never yield to deal in whispers, too;
If you can bravely smile when loved ones doubt you
And never doubt, in turn, what loved ones do;
If you can keep a sweet and gentle spirit
In spite of fame or fortune, rank or place,
And though you win your goal or only near it,
Can win with poise or lose with equal grace;

If you can meet with Unbelief, believing,
And hallow in your heart, a simple creed,
If you can meet Deception, undeceiving,
And learn to look to God for all you need;
If you can be what girls should be to mothers:
Chums in joy and comrades in distress,
And be unto others as you’d have the others
Be unto you — no more, and yet no less;

If you can keep within your heart the power
To say that firm, unconquerable “No,”
If you can brave a present shadowed hour
Rather than yield to build a future woe;
If you can love, yet not let loving master,
But keep yourself within your own self’s clasp,
And not let Dreaming lead you to disaster
Nor Pity’s fascination loose your grasp;

If you can lock your heart on confidences
Nor ever needlessly in turn confide;
If you can put behind you all pretenses
Of mock humility or foolish pride;
If you can keep the simple, homely virtue
Of walking right with God — then have no fear
That anything in all the world can hurt you —
And — which is more — you’ll be a Woman, dear.

And to tie it all together, a child’s poem that I as many of you of my era may be familiar with:

“Cindy and Billy siting in a tree.

K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

First comes love,

then comes marriage,

then comes Billy in a baby carriage.”

When we lose our innocence, we lose our bearings.

For this reason, a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

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To My Dad

“But the Common Man does not in the least want to found a sect. He is much more likely, for instance, to want to found a family.” – G.K. Chesterton

Anthony Malizia, was born on September 14, 1911 in Settefrati, Italy. Settefrati, is located in the mountains of the Province of Frosinone; in the Italian region Lazio, about 120km east of Rome and about 40km east of Frozinone.

My father emigrated, from Italy, to the United States, as a young man – entering the country, by way of Ellis Island, N.Y. He was sponsored by a cousin, and fulfilled his dream by becoming  a U.S. citizen. His name is one of so many, who shared that common dream, that is forever engraved, on “The American Immigrant Wall Of Honor,” at Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

In 1940, he would marry my mother, Antoinette, who was, herself, a resident of New York City. They would move to, and live in, Connecticut, raising three boys; I being the youngest.

Prior to marriage, my father was a Civilian Conservation Corps laborer. He worked on projects located in Idaho and Texas. He wanted to enlist, to serve in World War II, but was discouraged in doing so, because my mother was pregnant with their first child. He was disappointed, knowing that his childhood friend and cousin was going and he could not.

For most of his working years, my dad worked the night shift, as a pressman, for Conde’ Nast – a magazine publishing company, which was located close to our home. So close, that he was able to walk to work. I can remember seeing him leave at about 5PM each day; with his lunch bag tucked under his arm. When he returned from work, at about 2AM, we would, of course, be asleep. He would grab a snack, that my mom had left for him from dinner, then would look in on his boys before he went to bed. He had a habit of gently picking our heads off our pillows and turning the pillow over. Then he would lower our heads onto the fresh underside. We never asked why he did that. But, on a cold winter night, it got your attention.

I was a young avid TV viewer, and had a used TV set in my bedroom. The reason being, I wasn’t able to use stairs as readily, or as often, as my brothers; to watch the main family TV, in the living room. The convenience of having a TV in one’s bedroom was that, whenever one chose, it could be tuned on. My dad was suspicious that I might be staying up too late watching TV. Before he returned from work, I would turn off the set and feign sleep. But, he wasn’t easily deceived. With one eye open, I’d see him slip into my room, and put his hand on the set, to check if it was still warm. So he accomplished his goal of getting me to sleep earlier, without saying a word. Because, I’d now turn it off much earlier to be certain that the old “Philco” would be cool to his touch. It is a wise boy, who can avoid being disciplined. A clever guy; my dad.

The Conde’ Nast, where my father worked, would close in the years ahead; leaving him unemployed. He was troubled by the loss of income. So he would work landscape jobs with my uncle, while interviewing for a new job with local companies. After returning from one interview, he told me that the person interviewing him, seemed as though he was just going through the motions; not leaving my father with a good feeling. When the interview was over, as  my father was leaving, he told the gentleman conducting the interview: “I know, as soon as I leave, you are going to through my application in the trash basket.” One of the very duties he was applying for. The next day as my dad was working a landscaping job, the phone rang. When I answered it, the person calling, informed me that dad was hired, and gave me the pay rate and when he was  to begin. When dad returned, I gave him the news. His was so happy and relieved that he began to dance. I can only liken what I witnessed, to the scene in the movie; “The Treasure Of Sierra Madre,” when John Huston danced for joy, after he and his associates discovered gold. As regards his interview, my dad was not one to mince words. He called things as he saw them , and in this instance, it seemed the right call. And that job, at that time; was like striking gold.

Summer’s were great fun. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we were never in want. My favorite summer events were the outdoor movie and Playland; an amusement park in Rye, New York. When we attended Playland, dad would carry me onto most of the rides. The effects of polio made it difficult for me to get onto the rides without aid. We’d usually have a group following us. Because, sooner or later, other patrons would catch on to the fact, that the ride attendees were giving us a longer ride; seeing  how difficult it was for me to access.

Drive-in movies, for those who recall them, would start at dusk, and often would offer double features. Each Wednesday was “Buck Night.” That’s when you could load up the family car, with the whole family, all for $1.00. My mom and dad would switch to the back seat, leaving the front for me and my brother. Their motive was easily understood, when by the second feature, we would have to increase the speaker volume, to overcome the sound of snoring. Of course, on the return home, I’d be the one who had fallen asleep, and my dad would carry me to bed, with my head slumped on his shoulder, and brace covered legs, dangling in front of him.

While living in our neighborhood, I would watch my friends having a catch with their dads. I asked my dad if he’d catch with me. Now, if I missed the ball, he was doing double duty; as he would have to chase down the ball, that I couldn’t retrieve. Also, my dad’s native game was bocce not baseball. So he would deliver his throw, not like a pitch to home plate, but rather, like throwing the pallino ball, to begin the bocce game. This is just one example, of many, proving that he would do all he could(if he thought it beneficial to our growth), to help me, or my brothers, achieve the things we thought important; no matter how foreign it was to him.

I believe all kids see their fathers as heroes. On one occasion, it became clear to me. We were picnicking at Candlewood Lake, in Ct. While we were having lunch by the lake, some other visitors headed into the water, to scuba dive; laden with goggles, flippers, wet suits and oxygen tanks. It was a sunny, but rather raw day. Within minutes, the calm had changed to panic. One of the divers, was thrashing about, and screaming for help. He was hanging on to his fellow diver, who in a frenzy, was pulling him under. Two observers dove in and were able to gather both to shore. However, all were having trouble, freeing the panicked diver  from his gear. My dad rushed over and was able to free the diver from his tank and wet suit. He then, wrapped blankets around the man, now uncontrollably shaking from the cold and fear. Dad then helped him out to a car, that was waiting to take him to a nearby hospital. As I watched my dad walk by, with the fortunate, yet exhausted diver, a feeling came over me; I was proud. Dad would later credit his ability to quickly extricate the diver from his equipment, to the daily experience gained in helping me put on and remove my leg braces.

When dad passed away from cancer, on January 16, 1969, the outpouring of love was overwhelming. So many were in attendance at his wake and funeral mass, that it was standing room only. My father never walked on the moon(although, due to his fun-loving nature, I’m sure, in his youth, he howled at it, at one time or another), nor was he a CEO for a Fortune 500 company. Yet, as a husband, family member, friend and father, he possessed that rare quality, compelled by his love, that one did not witness enough of then, nor does one today; You could count on him.

Of all the men that God could have given, as a father, to me and my brothers-He gave us him. My dad was equal in interest, discipline and love. He was a complete dad to each of us. He understood our individual attributes, gifts and dreams. He encouraged and supported us each, in the pursuit of goals, that reflected our innate unique purposes.

For being a man who understood the importance of his station within the family unit – and by sacrificing for that which he saw as his primary responsibility and purpose – he has well-earned the title: “Father.”

Happy Father’s Day, Dad; Be at peace.

love,

Alan

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Mom Forever In A Song

I offer this post written in 2016 on this Mother’s Day 2022. Though the years have passed since my mom’s passing the words and sentiments within this post hold as firm today as then and always, for no greater aspect of and role in life is there than Motherhood. The firmness of the road ahead for any new life is determined by a stable family life best served by the commitment and love of both dad and mom. Of which mother assumes the heart of that family.

I had difficulty coming up with the words that would best do justice to this Mother’s Day post. I searched my mind but found none worthy. Yet the words not found in thought were found in the heart.

After a nine month stay at a convalescent hospital, recovering from paralysis due to Polio, my mom would sing me to sleep each night. The fears of a disabled five-year old then, and the challenges ahead not yet conceived, were tempered by the security and confidence instilled by Mom’s comforting protective loving voice. The trials of any day melted away with every lyric of the song which she chose as a lullaby that bound us to each other as she lie beside me until I gave way to peaceful sleep. I offer that song here in tribute to my mom’s memory.

“Goodnight Sweetheart – (performed by Rudy Vallee, 1941)

Goodnight sweetheart
‘Til we meet tomorrow.
Goodnight, sweetheart
Sleep will banish sorrow.

Tears and parting
May make you forlorn.
But with the dawn
A new day is born.

So I’ll say goodnight sweetheart
Though I’m not beside you.
Goodnight sweetheart
Still my love will guide you.

Dreams enfold you
In each one I’ll hold you.
Goodnight sweetheart
Goodnight.

To my mom I offer a “Goodnight Sweetheart.” Throughout my life I have found comfort, security, encouragement and love within her affectionate arms. I ask now that she has  found perfect peace and joy, of which she is so worthy, in God’s loving eternal embrace.

How blessed is the person whose choice of a mother would be that of God’s too.

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No Greater Love

“Initial reports from the Texas Rangers have determined that the two migrants were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking. They remain in the custody of US Customs and Border Patrol,” the statement from TMD officials reported.

Texas National Guard Specialist Bishop E. Evans, 22 knew none of the above when he removed his protective amor and dove into the treacherous currents of the Rio Grande to save two struggling human beings. What inspires one to disregard himself and his loved ones in a supreme selfless act such as this where the wager is one’s own life? It is a reverence for all life which is graced each of us by the Divine love of God. I’m sure he would hope that another would do the same should one of his loved one’s lives were in the balance.

For his selfless act he now wears the crown of Glory for he has shown the ‘greatest love of all”, he gave up his life for a another. I hope this brings solace to his grandparents who raised him, who now have the unenviable two edged cross. On one edge is their pride in their grandson who validated his up bringing by this sacrifice. On the other edge is the loss to be born now in his absence in every aspect of their lives moving forward.

Specialist Evans is not only a true American hero but a martyr for all live. In an instant he traded his away so that another could keep theirs. My hope is that when these two come to understand the gravity of what he did for them and the cost, they may turn from the evils of their enterprises and turn to God.

We are all Specialist Evens’ grandparents. We are all assimilated in the tenets that makes America. That life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is fundamental to our whole being as a nation and that no man has granted this to all of mankind. But, it is a gift from God who by His grace has so blessed us with this understanding from within, not from without. We have lost a brother, a son, a grandson who is by the aforementioned a member of our American family. We suffer the loss as well, thereby, not leaving his grandparents alone to carry that burden.

We must understand the circumstances, that are very well controllable and preventable by the powers that be, have put Specialist Evans in that fateful place and time. Decisions lead to actions or non-actions. And as we can sadly see, they always have consequences.

RIP Specialist Bishop Eveans. Know that our nation is all the better for you.

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The Empty Tomb

A Blessed and Happy Easter to you all and your loved ones.
-Alan

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

“Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard. – Matthew 27: 65-66

“The king lay in state with the guard about Him. And the most astounding fact about this spectacle of vigilance over the dead is that the enemies of Christ expected the Resurrection, but His friends did not. It was the believers who were the skeptics. It was the unbelievers who were credulous.

None of the apostles expected a Resurrection. They had to be convinced. They had to be convinced the hard way, as Thomas had to be convinced. Believe me, the skeptics of today cannot compare with the skeptics of those days, namely the apostles. They were the doubters, and when they were convinced they proved that they believed by having their throats…

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The One Truth

When the mad Carousel that is the world has run its course, there will be but One truth, that has always been from the start, remaining.

It is the One Truth that stood before Pilate as the answer to his question: “Quid est veritas?

It is the One Truth that is beyond contestation which tells us that the exalted will be humbled and the humble exalted.

It is the One Truth that tells us that the road to perdition is wide and well traversed, while the way to heaven is confining and ends at a narrow gate.

While we still have a breath in us, we must choose but one of two sides, either light or darkness. For that is all that is left us. Will we choose the Light of the World, or, the Prince of Lies?

The historic event some two thousand years ago, as depicted below, clearly distinguishes the difference.

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The Week That Changed The World

As we enter Holy Week we remember that two years ago we and the world entered a most unprecedented period of duress rooted in a pandemic from which many trials and challenges have sprung forth. Yet the lessons of Holy Week provides a hopeful model that there is light at the end of the tunnel. For the lamentation of Good Friday gives way to the Joy of Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday

“Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.”- John 12:13

Holy Thursday

“And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake: and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.”-Luke 22:19

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many.”-Matthew 26:28

Good Friday

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”- Luke 23:34

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?” That is, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”-Matthew 27:46

“And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”- Luke 23:46

Holy Saturday

” Command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day: lest perhaps his disciples steal him away, and say to the people: He is risen from the dead: and the last error shall be worse than the first…Pilate saith to them: You have a guard: go, guard it as you know.”- Matthew 27:64-65

Easter Sunday

“Who saith to them: Be not affrighted: you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he is risen, he is not here, behold the place they laid him.”- Mark 16:6

“For this was I born, and for this came I into the world: that I should give testimony to the  truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice.”

The Promise”– by, Alan Malizia

Upon a cross a debt was paid,

and promise made,

for tortured souls enslaved.

From an empty tomb,

as if a womb,

emerged the promise kept.

And by it we are saved.

A Blessed Holy Week to all. Know that the agony of Good Friday is but the requisite for the ecstasy of Easter Sunday.
-Alan

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The Carpenter’s Son

“And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? Did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business?” – Luke 2: 48-49

Jesus, at the age of twelve, during the Passover, was missing for three days. When His frantic parents, who thought he was with relatives or acquaintances, had returned to Jerusalem, they found Him in the Temple discoursing with the elders. As He said, He was in His Father’s house tending to His Father’s business. All, save for His earthly parents, did not understand His meaning. For often it was said among those who knew the family: “Is this not Jesus, the son of the carpenter, Joseph?”

When God, the Father, sent His Word into the world in Christ, He sent Him by way of the womb of a sinless women. But, why to a surrogate Father who was a carpenter? Why not to a man of some other vocation?

My cousin, Ralph, is a carpenter. He once constructed a new deck overlooking the back yard of our house. He first tore down the old existing deck and replaced it with a new and improved deck that served better than the first. After he had finished the deck, and as we stood upon it and admired his work, I paid him and shook his hand in gratitude for the wonderful job completed. Have you ever shaken the hand of carpenter? It is a strong firm hand of rough texture. It is a hand of one who knows hard work. But also a hand that validates the skilled craftsman. A hand that attests to a keen creative mind of one who is disciplined to the laws governing his trade. A hand that demonstrates the characteristic of one who possesses an eye for the aesthetic. A hand that transforms an idea into a reality.

Christ spent the first thirty years of His life obeying. In that He was obedient to the nurturing and direction of His earthly parents. During that period of time he learned and practiced the art of carpentry; as was the profession of Joseph. He knew the purpose and proper use of the tools of carpentry of His time; including the predecessors of the hammer and nail.

Christ’s hands were also strong and rough. Made so by His apprenticeship. Yet, His hands healed, as well. Not solely in the repair of worn furniture, leaking roofs and broken plows, but, of most importance, the restoration of a malfunctioning mankind. Broken bodies, empty hearts and tortured hopeless souls were made anew. His were not the soft hands of one who handles money or fine cloth. His work in the practice of carpentry was hard and demanding, requiring much physical strength. God sent Him not to be raised by a money changer nor a trader in goods. He was sent to one who would train Him in hard labor. For the true mission that lay before Him would be hard and laborious, as well. Joseph was a skilled craftsman in the use of the instruments of his trade. He cut and shaped the wood according to the image that he had in mind for a particular item that he was commissioned to make or repair. The parts were then firmly joined by hammer driven nails resulting in the desired product of that image.

The Son of God, too, was a craftsman. Except one of a divine nature. The knowledge, skill and discipline of His earthly trade would be implemented in the mission for which God had commissioned Him to accomplish. Christ was God’s idea and reality. As in carpentry His mission required some tearing down and rebuilding. The then unmerited altered and tainted truths being taught by the learned, which were once truths revealed in perfect purity by God to His creatures as the guiding principles of life, had to be torn asunder. And by the power of divine sacrificial love, God’s reinstated truth would be secured in the longing hearts of the contrite, as the carpenter’s hammer drives nails in fastening. By this action the son of the carpenter set the stage for the Son Of God.

In an absurd divine irony, the son of the carpenter, who often tore down to build anew, would, Himself, be torn down by the very tools of His trade. Hammer and nail that joined two pieces of wood now has fixed the hands and feet of the Son of God to the tabernacle of His own making, formed from the successful execution of His very mission.  And on that tabernacle of pain and suffering  the Son of God would achieve for mankind what no son of a carpenter ever could; redemption. The hands that once pierced to restore broken woodwork have now, themselves, been pierced to restore a broken world.

By that redemptive act, Christ would forgive the sins that have since, The Fall, separated man from a complete and loving relationship with God. And in three days hence, He would renew a never-ending relationship between God and mankind.

The work done by a good carpenter can last a lifetime. But the work of the Divine Carpenter lasts forever.

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The Paradox Of The Cross

Jesus carried the cross an estimated distance of 650 yards. Which is a little less than a quarter of a mile. The same distance many may walk leisurely in the morning with a cup of coffee in hand or in mowing one’s lawn on a warm summer day. But for one who had just been scourged within an inch of His life, undergone intensive interrogation, suffered abuse and had little if any sleep or nourishment, that distance must have seemed like that which one would run in a marathon.

[Pheidippides, a Geek messenger, legend sates, was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon(in which he had just fought), in 490 BC. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the assembly, exclaiming “Victory,” before collapsing and dying.} 

It has been debated whether Jesus would have been able to carry His cross that distance considering the state of His condition. Historians tell that those condemned to crucifixion would carry the cross-bar and not the stem of the cross. Still the weight of the cross-bar was between 80 to 110 pounds. It has been shown that even a healthy man of Jesus’ presumed stature would not be able to carry the cross-bar the distance from the beating, on a path, known as the Via Dolorosa or the “way of suffering” (which was a narrow street of stone, probably surrounded by markets and crowded at the time), to the crucifixion site at Golgotha.

Along the way a centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, forces a North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross; after the third fall of Jesus. Jesus follows along still bleeding and sweating a cold clammy sweat of shock, until the journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha ends.

To answer the debate of how Jesus could have carried the cross under His dire condition one must look beyond the physical. Jesus is referred to as the “Son of Man” and the “Son Of God.” He was both human and divine in nature. The cross he carried was made of wood, but, in truth, was composed of the sum total of humanity’s sufferings from the trials of body, mind and spirit. All of which were derived from original sin. Jesus was not sent by God to overthrow Roman Rule, but rather “to turn the world upside down in order to turn it right-side up”(G.K. Chesterton), through the conversion of human hearts from sin in order to reconcile God with His people.

To accomplish this reconciliation there must be a sacrifice. For a soul can only be cleansed of sin by the shedding of blood. And for all mankind to be forgiven, God would have to offer Himself in sacrifice. A life not to be taken, but given. It was only the unimaginable perfect love of God that could make the burden of man’s sin, which was the substance of the cross, manageable enough to be carried by Jesus. By divine love alone can the unbearable be borne ; and men and women set free from the burden of sin.

Simon was at first forced to carry Jesus’ cross. And when the journey was done, Simon may very likely had to again be forced; but this time to leave His side. For when the cross that lay upon the shoulder of God lay upon his, the role of his own sin became apparent in this act of deicide. And he too felt the cross made manageable, for his burden, along with that of humanity, had already been borne by this savior, and was now lifted from all  through divine pardon. Simon was the first of many who are called to take up their cross and follow Christ.

So the cross itself is a contradiction-a paradox. It has both a vertical stem and horizontal cross-bar. Vertical represents life, while horizontal represents death. And hanging in the intersection is Jesus the Christ. Who through His death and resurrection has triumphed over death and removed its sting. And in so doing fulfills the promise made to us all; that by following Him we too will do the same.

And with His last breath the Son Of Man bowed His head in death. Three days hence, in the rising of the Son Of God was heard “THE WORD” proclaimed, as was once uttered by the dying Pheidippides; “VICTORY!”

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