All over the world, Christians are focused on the cross of Jesus. A symbol we see everyday. But today, our eyes are glued on the cross because we remember the day Jesus died on the cross. In a short while we will be venerating the cross. The words that we will hear three times… “This is the wood of the cross; on which hung the Saviour of the world!” It is not just today that we bring to mind this reality. During Lent the Church visits the Christ’s Passion and Death through the Stations of the Cross. St the beginning of each station we say, “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.” To which we respond, “Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
These words remind us that Jesus chose the cross as the way to save us all. It was the way that he chose to manifest the Father’s love for us, His people. It is so different from the way that humanity is accustomed to. When we want to show appreciation or gratitude to someone, we buy them gifts. Or when we want to express love, we give them a hug or a kiss. But Jesus chooses the most gruesome way expressing His love. He takes on a crown of thorns, he carries the cross, his hands & feet are nailed, his side is pierced; he is jeered, spat at, mocked and humiliated.
Can anyone of us imagine such a way to express love to another person? The cross during the time of Jesus was used for criminals. It was the most excruciating way of inflicting punishment on any one who had broken the law.
Today, crosses come in all sizes, shapes and material. Some are jeweled, some are made from precious materials. However, Good Friday brings us back to the reality that it is about a wooden cross and, more importantly, about the One who died upon it.
Some of us may have seen how a death certificate looks like. One of the information that you will find there would be the cause of death. If Jesus had a death certificate, the cause of death would read LOVE. We remember in John 3:16 where it says, “For God so loved the world that he sent his only beloved Son…” That is the ONLY reason why He came into our world and left us the cross as a sign of that same love.
Today, we have come not only to remember the death of Jesus but more importantly, we have come to celebrate God’s undying love for us His people. The irony of it all is that in dying we receive the undying love of God.
If this is the way that God chooses to express His love for us, how do we show our love for Him in return? Surely no one here would choose the way of Jesus. It is unthinkable. But surely we must respond to this love? How can we not?
The crucifix continues to call us to respond. Our response should not just be based on what is found in our liturgies and rituals, but more importantly what is found in our hearts. It is there, in the very core of our being that we must respond to His love. What do we think of Christ? What place does He really occupy in our lives? How does His passion, death, resurrection, and revelation impact my life profoundly?
For some, our coming together today will remain just as a remembrance, with no lasting impact of our lives. Then this gruesome death clearly makes no difference. But for many, this death will transform our lives. The prayer of the Church is that the death of Jesus will change our lives in a way that we were reminded at the start of Lent: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.