Good Friday, and especially the Cross, was always problematic for me when I was growing up. What’s good about it? It is something that has intrigued, challenged, confused and fascinated me to the core of my faith, and still does. It is a scene of extremes and I still struggle with this. So, as many will walk the Stations of the Cross in some way today, here’s my mini-reflection from where I currently am.
1. The Cross – God’s Extreme Commitment to me
Jesus taught his followers to trust that the Father would give them “good things” if they asked. What are those “good things”? For some it may be a material good while for others it may be a spiritual good, like patience or forgiveness. Either way, the Cross teaches us what “good things” we need from God. As I try to live out the gospel, when presented with a Cross and I find that I have not the strength to lift it, Christ comes and makes it possible for me to receive the nourishment that I need, to participate in his life.
2. The Cross – Jesus’ Extreme Sacrifice for us
We all have our blind spots. When someone disappoints me or harms someone close to me, my inner judge tempts me to punish the offender, to nurse a wounded ego or to exact payment for the perceived offense. At such times, the Passion story presses like a crown of thorns upon the head, or like nails driven through the feet. It can be tempting to turn a deaf ear to truth; it is so much more immediately gratifying to follow where my fallen passions move me, instead of rushing to reconcile with the other.
3. The Cross – God’s Extreme Mercy
Jesus extends the invitation to me and to all of us: ‘Starting today, take up your Cross. Forget the failings of the past. Don’t worry about what tomorrow will bring. Open yourself to God’s will for your life, with all its unsettling possibilities. Believe in the mercy of God that can withstand an honest appraisal of past actions. Let go of the right to judge others or dictate terms.’ This is the power of the Cross: In my weakness and humility, God’s love reigns supreme.
4. The Cross – God’s Extreme Love for us – When the love of God is poured out to us through the Cross of Christ, it empowers us to do remarkable things in God’s name. Where will the Cross of Christ take you and me? What will the love of God, as revealed by the Cross, empower us to do? Am I willing to allow myself to receive the love of God to such a degree that I cannot contain it? Am I willing to see, despite all appearances, that the stranger before me is the Lord?
Lord Jesus Christ, your passion and death is the sacrifice that unites earth and heaven, and reconciles all to you. Your Cross is the ultimate symbol of your love and mercy. May we follow in your steps and so come to share your glory in heaven where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever.