The Power of the Cross – Rising above the ashes
There is no iota of doubt that there exists a great glut of literature and cinematographic / artistic masterpieces to convey the significance of the Cross. The Cross of Christ is most often viewed as an emblem of suffering and shame than an emblem of God’s Agape Love and a path that the saints trod to holiness. Today, the suffering Gospel of Agape Love is substituted with the prosperity Gospel. Good Friday reminds us that the Heavenly Person who descended on earth with a Purpose, to give us Power chose the way of the Cross.
The Cross – an emblem of Love
The Cross in its ineffable aura and opulence, in its mystery and majesty simply flows through all the pages of the Holy Scriptures. The Cross foreshadows in the Old Testament as a figure, as an event in the New Testament and as a Sacrament & Mystery in the Church. The Cross was the hope of the patriarchs, the promise of the prophets, the triumph of kings, the ministry of priests and the Crowned Altar of Jesus.
The Cross figured in the beginning of the Old Testament as a tree in the garden of Eden (Gen 2:9), as the wood of Noah’s ark (Gen 6:14) that provided new life to all who took refuge in it, as a wooden staff that separated the Red Sea (Ex 14:21), as a catalyst that sweetened the bitter waters of Marah (Ex 15:25), moreover as an altar when Abraham bound his son Isaac for sacrifice (Gen 22:9).
The Cross figured in the New Testament as an instrument of condemnation to death, as total destruction of a man, the lowest point of Kenosis (Phil 2:8).
The Cross shines out in the Church in the light of resurrection as an abode where the Real Adam said Yes to the Lord, as a place where the mystery of our religion is accomplished (1 Tim 3:16), as a divine milieu where the church is born from the pierced side of Jesus, a bride continuously cleansed by the Waters of Baptism and nourished by the Blood of the Lamb (John 19:34).
The Cross is the kingdom of the Father, the scepter of the Son and the seal of the Holy Spirit, the only True witness to the Triune God.
The Person of the Cross – Love personified
Jesus gave a whole new meaning to the Cross. The Kenosis / self-emptying of the Suffering-Servant of God that commenced at the annunciation is accomplished in the Cross. When the time dawned near, he humbly marched towards Jerusalem, refused to resist when arrested, forgave His executioners from the Cross and became obedient unto death. The Incarnate Word emptied and freely offered Himself in sacrifice on the Cross as a free gift to His Heavenly Father for our sake. His last words, “It is finished” (John 19:30) declare His overwhelming victory, the victory achieved on the Cross. The real embodiment of servant hood, humility and kenosis, raised high on the Cross stirs the heart of the pagan centurion at the foot of the Cross to remarkably conclude, “Truly, this Man was the Son of God” (Mk 15:39).
The Purpose of the Cross – Love Demonstrated
God demonstrated his love that while we were yet sinners, His Son died for us (Rom 5:8). Jesus pouring Himself out on the Cross is the superlative revelation of Agape love overflowing for us, the abounding blessing of God’s love. The Son bows his head to bestow His final kiss, extends His arms to embrace us and opens His heart in love to us. The Agape love of the Blessed Trinity shines forth at Calvary in the Humanity of the Son of God. The purpose of the Cross has been a costly affair. Love has won and relation restored at a ransom. It is over the blooded, mangled body of the Son in the arms of the Divine Father of Love. Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his Life for others. (John 15:13). Today, the Cross has become the judgment Seat of the Father, the verdict has been passed, no condemnation only mercy, love has conquered it all. The Father offers the dual gifts of Love – His Son and His Spirit. The Cross of Christ exalted on high has gathered all sheep unto Him. The Cross enables the good thief to rob paradise from Jesus during his final moment on earth (Luke 23:42-43). The Cross shines out, in victory and fulfillment of its purpose, as a bridge to the Heavenly Father.
The Power of the Cross – Love Overflowing
The greatest blessings that pour from the Cross are immeasurable. Jesus, on the Cross, instituted the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, when he opened His side for us and reconciled us to His Heavenly Father. These gifts are continuously and freely accessible to us. The stupendous gift that it bestows is our own forgiveness and reconciliation (Rom 3:23-25). Our Lord has blotted out our transgressions and nailed them to the Cross. (Col 2:13-14). Moreover, the Cross is the new “tree of life” (Rev 22:2) from which pours healing upon healing. How marvelous is the power of the Cross? It renews us, forgives us, heals us and makes our joy complete to enjoy abundant life (John 10:10)
Our response to the Cross – Love Sharing
The Heavenly Person came on Earth with a Purpose to Connect Heaven and Earth, to connect God and Man, to empower Man to become divine. How can we celebrate the mystery of the Cross? How can we partake in the glory of the Cross? St Paul, the apostle shows us the way. We too like him, must only boast of the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 6:14). We too must be willing to deny ourselves and take up the Cross (Mark 8:34) and follow Jesus. We too must be prepared to follow Jesus to Jerusalem and die with Him, like Thomas the apostle (John 11:16). We too are called to share in God’s love by partaking in the sorrowful mysteries of Jesus Christ and be “conformed to his image” (Rom 8:29) to become true disciples of the Lord, living and caring for one another as the early Christians (Acts 2:42). We need to connect our lives with the Cross of Christ, unveil it in our hearts. We must discover the glory of the Cross as it shines forth in heaven and on earth and live it joyfully, for His glory to the greater Glory of God. May we realize that our richest gain is loss when we survey the wondrous Cross of Christ, which demands our soul, our life, our all. So let us lift high the Cross of Christ in our hearts for all to see and proclaim His love till the whole world acclaims His Glorious Name.
Kindly keep me in your prayers.
Contributed to “the Examiner” dt September 10, 2011