By Irene González-Hernández
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“We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection: through him we are saved and made free.”Antiphon for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
On the cross, the incarnate Truth suffered the most excruciating agony shedding every last drop of his blood so that we know Love. But, isn’t love something beautiful and attractive?
It is precisely here where the depth of the cross lies: a man disfigured by pain and suffering is Truth, Goodness and Beauty made flesh. The harshness of this reality impels us not to be indifferent and to look with the eyes of the heart, Christ crucified, and in him, the suffering humanity of yesterday, of today, and of every age.
And I look at the cross and I wonder, what am I called to? What is the ultimate meaning of my life?
And I understand that Christ crucified is the symbol of a new image of man, a man who exists for others. “Christ … fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” (Gaudium et Spes 22.1)
“Precisely because he exists for others totally, he is totally himself –the final image of true humanity–. To become a Christian means to become man, reaching true humanity, being for others and being-from-God. ” (The death of Christ, Joseph Ratzinger)
Dying to the world we find true life, and by giving our lives for others we obtain the reward of glory. Precisely the cross teaches us that we cannot resurrect without dying and that only the radical nature of love that becomes self-giving is fruitful. (Jn 12:24)
At the beginning of his Passion, Jesus prayed saying “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me” (Lk 22:39), but at the decisive hour, Jesus confirms on the cross his free submission to the will of the Father and says “I thirst.” He thirsts for that same chalice that is offered to him, to die for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of all. He thirsts for souls to be saved and to obtain the true life that love gives.
Let us not stop looking at the cross, looking at that God-man who in his frailty is Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One and bears all the sins of humanity.
That Christ with open arms, whose body and soul are broken on the cross, embraces us in the most perfect love that is given eternally. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is an eternal sacrifice because God is greater than eternity. And at the same time, it is a Eucharistic sacrifice that is actualized in each Eucharist where Christ is the broken bread, Himself who was broken at the crucifixion.
On the cross, the good thief understands what true royalty is: this powerless man is true King and the cross is his throne and he rules in his own way. He is “King not of their bodies through power, but of their hearts through love.” (Life of Christ, Fulton J. Sheen)
When Christ dies on the cross, the Word of God is annihilated in the loudest silence of love.
Let us pray that in contemplating the cross, the most vicious darkness once again illuminates the conscience of men, but above all, of those who profess themselves followers of Christ. Let us ask God to strengthen our love to give our lives for others, so that we do not get down from the cross, and thus, share with Him the glory. For only love is stronger than death.