Today’s devotional comes to us from an actual human ray of sunshine, Vanessa Roberts Bryan. As Assistant Dean of Student Development Services, Vanessa provides leadership and infectious energy to a variety of campus programs. She works tirelessly to make our community better.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
(excerpt from Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, lyrics by Helen H. Lemmel)
“Let us keep looking to Jesus. Our faith comes from Him and He is the One who makes it perfect. He did not give up when He had to suffer shame and die on a cross. He knew of the joy that would be His later. Now He is sitting at the right side of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
For many of us, the crucifix can be an intimidating and painful image to think about. Many times we want to speed through the agony of the passion and crucifixion to quickly get to the joy of the resurrection. By doing this, we can miss the gifts that come from reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice.
I was a freshman in college the first time I attended confession and really felt God speaking to me through the sacrament. My campus minister, Fr. Dean, gave me what I thought at the time was a very odd penance. He told me to sit in the sanctuary and gaze upon Jesus on the cross. He said to really spend time looking at Jesus, reflecting on his pain and suffering, but also reflecting on his immense love. As I sat in the pew with no specific prayer to recite, I felt confused. But, I did as I was instructed – gaze upon Jesus. In those moments I got lost in Jesus’ holy face. I was moved to tears by his mighty love and the beautiful sacrifice he made for me. Just as the hymn and scripture say, the longer I focused on Jesus’ wonderful face, the more the things of the earth, my worries and fears, became strangely dim.
Praying in front of the crucifix or with the passion is one of my favorite ways to pray, especially during Lent. Gazing deeply into the eyes and face of Jesus, I am reminded of his pain, but more importantly I am reminded of his mighty sacrifice and love for me.
Take time this Lent to truly and deeply reflect upon Jesus’ passion and crucifixion. Imagine yourself there with him. Pray for the grace to feel his great love through his great sacrifice.
Gracious and loving God, open my eyes and my heart to the experience of your passion. Help me to find healing and love in your beautiful sacrifice. In your holy name, Amen.