We are marching from an extreme winter to a spring season to experience a summer. As a faith community, we are also marching towards the devotion of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Lent is a contemplative and confrontational break beginning with a ‘feast’ (wedding at Cana) and progressing with a ‘fast’ to break the bondages of sin and evil. This is a time to ‘minimize’ the worldliness and sinfulness and ‘maximize’ Godliness and holiness.
In John Bunyan’s famous Pilgrim Progress (1678), the hero, Christian, is trudging along, weighed down with a huge burden. Eventually the pilgrim comes to a place where, in Bunyan’s matchless description:
There stood a Cross, and a little below in the bottom, a sepulcher. So I saw in my Dream, that just as Christian came up with the Cross, his burden loosed from his shoulders, and fell from his back and began to tumble and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher, where it fell in, and I saw it no more…Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.
The gospel tradition tells the story of Jesus’ life and ministry culminating on the Cross and resurrection. Jesus suffering on the cross takes away the power of death as the condemnation and destruction of the creature. Through the cross God comes to us in action and Word, thereby identifying Himself with our suffering.
The very mention of crucifixion was taboo in polite Roman circles, since it was the form of capital punishment, reserved for slaves and rebels. The very idea of a crucified Messiah was scandalous to the Jews, it was sheer madness to non-Jews. It has seemed a barbaric folly to an educated Greek, a scandal to a Roma citizen, a divine curse to religious Jew. Still, the question remains, “How to unravel the meaning and mystery of the Cross?”
In Galatians 2:20 Apostle Paul, makes his confessional statement “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me”. For Paul there is three categorical expressions to this confession: Crucified with Christ means crucified in Christ, crucified with Christ and Crucified for Christ. The ultimate objective of this ‘crucified with Christ experience’ is to reach at the experiences of “Cross of Christ.” St John said about “The Word became Flesh” (John 1:14) and Paul described the “word of the cross” as God’s power (1Cor 1:18).
Cross is a distinguishing mark and way of salvation to humanity. The gift of salvation is offered in the life of Christ through Cross. Faith in the one who was crucified died and arouse was the one confirmed by God with power. The scandal par excellence had become an astonishing experience of salvation, the way of the cross, a possible way of life for those who accepted the Jesus as redeemer, who became Christians. Christianity has to become the orthopraxis (correct practice) way of the Crucified Christ. Cross of Christ proposes just and hopeful explanations to the questions of innocent and imposed sufferings./p>
According to Jurgen Moltmann, well-known ecumenical theologian, “the message of the cross is that God and suffering are not contradictions, but God’s being is being in suffering and suffering is in the being of God, because God is love and love exposes one to suffering.” In this way God suffers in solidarity with those who suffer and embraces the godforsaken reality by giving Himself for us. This is love which meets the involuntary suffering of the godforsaken with another kind of suffering: voluntary fellow suffering./p>
Cross and resurrection stand in the same relationship to each other as death and eternal life. The resurrection is the confirmation of his victory over sin, death and evil. Through Jesus Christ God and man meet as God in Jesus Christ and man in Jesus Christ. The resurrection provides hope for God’s final triumph over evil and suffering, because it discloses final destiny./p>
As parish we are preparing ourselves for Passion Week services and Easter worship, let’s listen to the voices of innocent sufferings and touch the people having bleeding experiences in their body and mind.
May God Almighty bless us to ‘take up the cross’ serve, suffer and sacrifice for the salvation of the world.
Wish blessings of God,