Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. St Mathew 16:24
We are in the dawn of a new decade. The beginning is always bright and joyful. It’s the beginning of a journey. The journey of our life will be filled with experiences of climbing a mountain into blazing sunlight and skating down to the valleys of darkness. Mountain tops provide us solitude and valleys enunciates within us the parodies of suffering and sacrifice. Every day we either talk or walk in the experiences of political assassinations, social annihilations, religious assimilations, and capital accumulations. The walks and talks of our lives are changing with an immense pace that even we are unable to gather the memories of our experiences.
Pablo Neruda, a Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, brilliantly sings “memories do not nourish me, and I embark on the life before me, moving the plaster of this century and the shoe of each day, suffering without a cross the torment of being the one most crucified, torn to shreds under the wheels of the false, victorious century” “after everything once and for all shall die this century of agony that taught us to assassinate and to die of survival.” Neruda is so powerful in his words on the “crucified one” in history even whose memories are fading falsely from our intellect and our hearts.
Crucified God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ poignantly says “follow me”. Meister Eckhart, a German theologian, philosopher and mystic said “people seem to respond in three ways when Christ says “Follow me”: those who run ahead are wicked, those who remain close by are missing an opportunity; but those who truly follow, they are perfect”.
Faith in the crucified Christ directs us away from all attempts to speculate God. Cross brings an end to all skepticism and suspicion regarding the faith in a genuine God. Cross of Christ directs us to God in human flesh, God on the cross, God raised from the dead. We believe and worship the God who is revealed in crib, cross, and crypt. We witness to God revealed as Jesus, crucified on the cross points us to the center of our humanity. Crucified Christ helps us to understand the fullness of what it means to be human, and cross thus expresses the broken humanity.
God’s wisdom is exemplified in his scandalous choice of a crucified Messiah as the means of salvation. Faith in Christ leads us from our old life being crucified with Christ into a new life which is raised with him. We the people must practice the kind of life that does not depend either on temporal success or temporal suffering but depends only on faithful following of the Lord. The cross gives value to the sin, sick, weak, poor and stranger as one for whom Christ died. Crucifixion is the means through which human beings broken, fallen, sinful are reconciled to God.
The cross is not only God’s way of saying we are not alone in our suffering, but also that God has entered into our suffering through His own suffering. Philip Yancey comments “victim became a hero by offering himself as a willing victim.” Yancey further argues that “a radiating effect of the cross was to undermine abusive power and injustice; that care for the disenfranchised and those living in the shadows of society came about as a direct result of Jesus’ crucifixion.”
Worshiping the wounded Christ is not a disgrace, a bizarre myth, or a historical failure. Crucified Jesus is profoundly comforting and life-altering indwelling within us a spirit of hope to all those who are suffering and vulnerable, tranquilized by the memories of fear and death. Malcolm Muggeridge said “But it wasn’t mad. It worked for centuries and centuries, bringing out all the creativity in people, all the love and disinterestedness in people, this symbol of suffering. And I think that’s the heart of the thing.”
How we will sketch our life before the Crucified God? Are we ready to face this Crucified Christ who encounters each moment of our life? The crucifixion of Christ cannot be read as a past event but must comprehend as a daily experience of our life.
Lent is a time to remap our life with Crucified Christ. It is not a fifty day program to become more pious but the beginning of holy habits to express the divine love, justice and righteousness. Lent begins on Feb 23 progress to April 12 Easter Sunday. Lenten devotions will present the Crucified Christ as the Transforming God (Feb 23), Cleaning Christ (March 1), Forgiving Christ (March 8), Welcoming Christ (March 15), Redeeming Christ (March 22), Reconciling Christ (March 29), Lord of Peace (April 5 Hosanna), and Celebration of New Life in Christ (April 12 Easter Sunday).
Let’s be faithful to the Crucified God and committed to the body of Christ, the Church.
In His Service