The loving sacrifice
Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, reflects on Jesus’ words on the cross
As we gaze on Jesus hanging on the cross, we acknowledge him to be our high priest, the one who presents himself, in his emptiness, to his loving Father on our behalf. In this moment, as in every moment of prayer, we unite ourselves to Christ, that we may become part of his offering, his prayer to God, who is the same God and Father of us all.
The Letter to the Hebrews is so encouraging. ‘Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession’ (Hebrews 4.14). Let us allow those words to strengthen our faith, and particularly our faith in Jesus, the Lord, who is now eternally in the presence of his Father interceding for us in his everlasting priesthood. There are so many things on which we could ponder. But here are two, briefly put, that can direct and guide us in our own prayer as a priestly people.
On the cross, Jesus cries out: ‘I thirst,’ and he is given vinegar, sour wine, to drink. Here are strong echoes of the Old Testament, and of the Psalms in particular. In Psalm 69, the just man, in his suffering, laments that ‘for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink’. Jesus is that just man. He is every just person exposed to suffering and distress. Here we are also reminded of the image of the vineyard. God plants a vineyard on a fertile hillside but all it yields are wild grapes. As Pope Benedict says: ‘The vineyard of Israel fails to yield for God the noble fruit of justice, which is grounded in love. It yields the sour grapes of man who is concerned only for himself.’..
Vincent Nichols is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and a cardinal. This article is an extract from The Glory of the Cross (SPCK), reprinted with permission
This is an extract from an article that was published in the April 2020 edition of Reform