Jordi Rivero, seminarian, circa 1980

"I have carved your name upon the palms of my hands" (Is. 49:16) . This is more than a romantic thought. Isaiah wants to make clear that God does love us that way. This verse is found in Chapter 49 which is where Isaiah begins the theme on expiation of sin and liberation. This is to occur through a suffering servant whom we recognize in faith to be Jesus.

Verse 7, for example states "Thus says the Lord, the redeemer and the Holy one of Israel, to the one despised whom the nations abhor, the slaves of rulers: When Kings see you, they shall stand up, and princess shall prostrate themselves". Then, Isaiah 53:5 is very explicit: "But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we are healed". Therefore when Isaiah writes: "I have carved your name upon he palms of my hands", we can see, in contex, that it applies to Jesus. We are carved in Gods hands, in the hands of Jesus pierced with nail! Jesus had us carved on his hands with a passionate love at the cost of his life!

The redemptive love of Jesus is applied to us through Baptism. Just as Mary was told that sorrow, like a sharp sword will break her heart (Lk:1:3-5), in baptism we are told: "In its name (the Church), I claim you for Christ our Savior by sign of the Cross". At that moment the sign of the Cross is traced in our forehead. Like Mary, anyone who gives his life to Jesus is to be carved in the passion of the Cross.

The entrance in the sacramental waters represents the persons immersion into the suffering and death of Jesus in order to come to new life in Him. Thereafter, when we see the suffering of the poor, the lonely, the sick and the victim of sin, we are called to enter into their lives with the healing love of Jesus. We then experience both the cross and the joy of the Lord. There is no way to separate them. It is the bearing of all things for the love of Jesus that identifies a true Christian. His love makes us sensitive to the pain of others. We realize that the source of suffering is sin but with his love Christ has embraced suffering and transformed it into a victory over sin.

Now we desire with all our hearts to unite ourselves with Jesus so that He may use us for the building of His kingdom. "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done". To run away from the losuffering of our brothers and sisters would be to deny our baptismal inheritance and to deny Christ. Just like Mary was told that sorrow, like a sharp sword, will pierce her heart, all who are united in Christ will also be pierced as they suffer bringing Gods love to this broken world. But, as we suffer, we remember with what love he carved us in the palms of His hands. Then we want to go on because happiness is to be like Him in all things. Among all kinds of people and in all circumstances, make it a life habit to imitate Jesus Christ, to do what He did, to avoid what He avoided. Learn to love Him as He loves you.

The ancient Catechesis of Jerusalem tough regarding baptism: "Let no one imagine that baptism consists only in the forgiveness of sins and the grace of adoption. Our baptism is not like the baptism of John, which conferred only the forgiveness of sins. We know perfectly well that baptism besides washing away our sins and bringing us the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a symbol of the sufferings of Christ."  This is why St. Paul exclaims: "Do you know that when we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were, by that very action, sharing in His death? By baptism we went with Him to the tomb" (Rom 6:6). How many Christians today understand this?

I have witnessed the pain of brothers and sisters that lost a dear friend or were rejected by their own family for the sake of faithfulness to Jesus. There was the hurt, the fear of loneliness, but they chose the love of God. Others have lost their jobs for refusing to go along with unethical practices. When following he Lord throws your life into crisis and apparent ruin, have you learned to stand in the hope of the Beatitudes? (cf. Mt. 5:1-12).

Union with Christ in all things is the only way to come to the new life of the Kingdom: "If you endure suffering even when you have done right, God will bless you for it. It was to this hat God called you, for Christ himself suffered for you and left you as an example so that you will follow in his steps". (1Pet. 2:20-21).

In the Trinity, love is perfectly participated. The Father's love, carved in His hands (Is. 49:16) is the love of the Son with His hands pierced at the Cross. The Father was fully sharing the love that His Son was giving by the power of the Holy Spirit. Fulton Sheen said that when the Lord comes to take us all, He will look to see if we have the marks of the Cross upon ourselves. He will look at our hands to see if they are crucified from sacrificial giving; He will look at our feet to see if they have been thorn-bruised and nail pierced searching for the lost sheep; He will look at our hearts to see if that have been opened to receive His Divine Heart.

Love Crucified