The Cross comes to meet us in many ways. When we have too much to do, or too little. When too many people seek our time and attention and we feel overwhelmed by the demands, or when no one is looking for us anymore and we would love to be trusted by someone, just one person. The Cross presents itself when we have all the energy we need; the problem is the lack of time in the day. And when we have more than enough time, but the problem is the lack of energy.
Our Lord on the Cross is the perfect union of justice and mercy. His death is the justice of God. Justice implies recognizing and facing the reality of evil. At the Cross, man's sin is recognized and admitted for what it is. We cannot really understand how Christ's death on the Cross satisfied divine justice. The mere fact that a man was crucified does not pay the price for our sins. And the expression "pay the price" does not really explain what happened on Calvary either, as if God demanded some retaliation, some vengeance, and as if it were a certain amount or price that could be paid. All we can try to imagine is how much Jesus suffered, how all human wickedness fell upon him, how he felt it as God and as man. An example can help us. The garbage we throw away has to be disposed of, either by nature, which breaks it down if it is biodegradable, or by someone who picks it up and takes it to landfills, where it is treated. It needs to be recognized for what it is, the disgusting, the ugly, the disgusting; it cannot be left and ignored. And then it has to be treated, crushed, recycled or burned: it has to be conquered, conquered.
This helps us to understand the Passion and death of Our Lord: its aspect of justice. That evil had to go somewhere, had to be "cast" somewhere. And the fact is that no human being was able to cope with all that evil: partly because we have lost before we started. We cannot defeat evil because it always, or so often, defeats us. It is in us. And it was simply too much. So it was "dumped" on Christ, who accepted to be the dumping ground for all human evil. And He was able to accept it all, bear it all and overcome it, out of love, out of His infinite love of God. His mercy on the Cross conquered all evil, triumphed over it, and that is why we celebrate today's feast: the triumph of the Cross, which is a triumph of love and mercy. But God wants this triumph to be lived also in us, and he gives us the grace to achieve it: the triumph of mercy. But mercy is lived most fully on the Cross: when we suffer, when we have to forgive those who hurt us or annoy us, or disappoint us, even in the smallest way. In a certain sense, the triumph of Christ's love on the Cross is only complete when love also triumphs in us.