A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Cross our only hope

By the Editor

Almost everyone is afraid of dying. And there is nothing wrong with that. Jesus was afraid of dying too. Yet in spite of his fear, he underwent what many would want to escape: he suffered so that we might be free. He willingly accepted being scorned, stripped of dignity, mocked and spat upon. In Jesus, God does not reject human brokenness, but takes it on himself. He reveals God’s love for us by making himself vulnerable. He takes responsibility for what we want to avoid: blame for our sins, our viciousness, our hatred.

He is nailed to a cross. He is executed rather than dying a natural death. And in all this, he does not reject what is human. St Paul puts it in terms of his not clinging to his equality with God, but emptying himself, becoming a slave. He enters into human deficiency and death’s desolation.

And God raised him, and gave him a name above all other names. The effect of the cross is the resurrection, in which hope is re-born. And that is why we hope. Hope is born out of the love that is shown in Jesus’ death on the cross. In the cross we find new life. Resurrection.

The lifting up that Jesus speaks of in John’s Gospel refers to his crucifixion. It also refers to his being lifted up into glory, in the resurrection.

When we look at the image of Jesus lifted up on the cross, our faith helps us to see beyond the cross to the resurrection. The suffering is not the end. The lifting up is the promise of resurrection. Jesus on the cross offers hope to anyone who fears death.

And when we look at his image on the crucifix, Jesus becomes more real for us, because we all experience suffering. His lifting up helps us to see how much of our lives he took on.

In fact, we suffer death day by day: losing someone we love; working hard for something that comes to nothing; getting older and finding that our bodies and brains and minds can no longer do what they used to do; losing a friendship or a job; the sadness of parents, grandparents and friends when someone is in a relationship that will end in heartbreak; physical, mental, psychological and spiritual anguish … the list of human pain is endless.

In all of these things we die a little bit, and in all of these things we can find the promise of new life, because we are one with Christ. Only when the grain of wheat is buried in the earth, like being buried in a grave, can it bring forth fruit. In our present struggles and in the small deaths we die every day, God is at work to bring new life. The sad desolation of the cross flowers into the joy of the resurrection.


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1 Responses »

  1. Anytime I'm in a state of loss or bewilderment I go to the foot of the cross of our Lord and Savior. This helps to recenter my soul and humble my pridefullness.