Why don’t we see very bloody crucifixes?
For some reason this has been really bothering me recently. And it’s not that I want to be horrified, but I kind of want to be horrified? Jesus died a horrific death. He bled every last drop of blood in his body during His Passion.
And yet when we see Him hanging on the cross barely a drop of blood is found. On the “best” crucifixes he will have the mark of the sword in His side and some blood there, and maybe a few drops around the nails in his hands and feet, but that is it.
Shouldn’t we want to display Jesus’s bloodied body so that we can more properly reflect on the full extent of His Passion? After an initial gasp perhaps we’d all come to a better recognition of not only that Jesus died for us but how He died for us.
I was at AWAKEN last night at St. Malachy in Coraopolis, PA and was staring at Jesus on the crucifix. The sunset was casting light and shadows on the sculpture of his body and his legs and arms were life-like. And yet as close as the artist may have come to capturing a leg muscle something was missing. If I were to have actually seen Jesus hanging on the cross it wouldn’t have looked like he has just taken a shower then happened to get nailed to a cross. Jesus was bloody. Jesus was dirty from his treacherous walk. He was likely such a horrific sight that I would want to turn away. But I should look upon Him – and really see how he hung there to better realize everything that Jesus did for me.
Now the closest I have come to seeing a “good” Crucifix in this way was when I was at the Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Missions in California. They had very old crucifixes on display which did not shy away from showing that Jesus experienced agony, pain – and yes, He bled.
I know I can’t know, but that comes closer to the mark I think. And yes, perhaps the first time I saw such a crucifix I may have recoiled in horror, but then I stopped – I stared, and I appreciated that I wasn’t sheltered from the extent of His love.
See how much Jesus loves you? It’s right there in His dirty, bleeding body as it hangs from the cross.