The cross is our faith. Christ is king on Calvary. His victory over evil on our behalf redeems all suffering. When God raised Jesus he raised us to glory too. Let’s be faithful through life’s sufferings, and confess if we fail to carry our cross with Him..
Do you remember the old stations of the cross; full of sweat and blood. They missed the fact that the crucifixion is God’s triumph over evil, but they had a point. For the cross shows us God as humble suffering love, redeeming human cruelty. Which is how Isaiah describes the Christ: “I offered my back to those to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard”. That’s the mystery of our faith, Christ though lord, suffered without retaliation. He perfectly imaged God’s humble love on Calvary. The apostles found this hard to accept. Even after proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, Peter tries to stop him going to Jerusalem to die. Jesus rebukes him saying; “get behind me Satan”. For Peter was like Satan in the desert, asking Christ to serve his own interests rather than God and humanity. The apostles also wanted Jesus to be a Hitler Messiah, riding to glory on the blood of fellow humans, and they as top dogs by his side. They couldn’t understand his choice of humble suffering service of God and us. But He’d made that choice, foreseen by scripture, in the desert. After Pentecost the apostles saw the wisdom of the cross.
So must we. We must also choose to be suffering servants of God and others to redeem the world. Christ gave to the Last drop of his blood and passed on that baton to us: “love one another as I loved you”. He showed us how to love by giving up everything, even his soul at last. Sadly the church and Christians through the ages have more often followed the opposite way. Satan’s way of pride, greed and abuse of the vulnerable. Hence church scandals, God needs to topple the worldly church every so often from its throne. For the main temptation the church, and its members, face is to reject the cross of life for worldly gain. Look at the many who walk away from the challenge of faith today to slavishly obey a world that would avoid the cross of faithful church going, of moral living, of priestly celibacy, of religious poverty and obedience, of humble lay service, of marriage faithfulness, of charitable giving until it hurts.
Live it up, serve yourself at all cost, crush everyone who stand in your way, use people for your pleasure, these are the world’s soul-destroying illusions. But pursuit of possessions, sex, and self-satisfaction at all costs might brings temporary pleasure but it fails to nurture the soul and it all turns to dust and ashes at last. Following that way we risk being left with just our own hard selves and an empty soul for eternity. Christ on the cross, by contrast would have us follow the way of giving love; suffering faithfulness; greatness of heart. Sadly, even simple sacrifices for God such as getting up on Sunday to go to mass seems beyond many today. But Jesus, the lord of Calvary, is our model. He says in today’s second reading that real love gives until it hurts. Sure, His way seems hard, but its sweetness and light in the long run; it flowers eventually into happiness here and eternal glory. Those who suffer with Christ for humanity will be raised to the highest heaven. For the things of this world of which Satan is lord fade to ashes at last but Christ is lord of truth, beauty, goodness and love forever and ever, amen.
So as God’s people called to faithful suffering service of God and others to redeem the world, lets profess our faith.
Prayers of the faithful
And as God’s people lets pray for what we need.
For our Holy Father, and all leaders of the church that they may not be afraid, as Paul says, to preach Christ and Him crucified.
For civic leaders that they may choose the humble service of those they lead rather than self-serving pride and corruption..
For our great youth who not shy away from the sacrifices involved in true faith and charity but in generous giving are born to deeper happiness here and eternal glory hereafter..
For ourselves in our homes, that serving our spouses and families faithfully in self-emptying and cross-carrying love, we may gain the greater crown of life in God’s arms at last..
For the sick, suffering in body or mind, that carrying their unavoidable crosses bravely they may turn them into gold for their own salvation and that of others, making up in their bodies, as Paul says, for what’s lacking in Christ’s sufferings.
For the dead, Christ’s faithful amid the trials and crosses of life, that helped by our prayers to rise above sins or failings that need atonement, they may come to heavenly peace..
And we ask all these prayers through Christ our Risen Lord whose wounds intercede for us before the Father forever, amen.
The famous prayer of St Francis has a great ending. He asks of God: “make me a channel of your peace..for its in giving that we receive and in dying that we’re born to eternal life”. Lets pray to Mother Mary, who suffered at the foot of the cross, to help us die to self every day so as to bring ourselves and others to deeper life in God. Lets bear our sorrows and crosses and turn them into gold for Christ and the world’s good..Hail Mary.