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The violence of the Cross

Thursday, December 14, 2006
Thursday 2 of Advent

Readings: Isaiah 41:13-20; Psalm 145; Matthew 11:11-15

‘From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force’ [Matthew 11:12].

Jesus again speaks in riddles. When the news reached them that John the Baptist was imprisoned, he has just finished instructing his disciples that he had come to ‘not to bring peace, but a sword’. The crowd is waiting anxiously for Jesus to declare himself to be the Messiah. They want to see him as their captain in the revolt against the Roman occupant.

At first, Jesus seems to be saying what they expect to hear: ‘the kingdom is to be regained by violence’. But there is more to his words: what he is about to do surpasses any expectation. Indeed, the prophets prophesied about this:

‘He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed’ [Isaiah 53;5].

Jesus himself is the Man of violence, and he regained the kingdom of heaven for us by the violence of the Cross.

‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’ [Matthew 11:5].


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