Recently, I had some Jehova's Witnesses come to my door. I am usually nice and gracious to them. They read a passage of scripture to me (they are so courageous), something I think we should all do (read scripture, that is) and left two issues of their publication, The Watchtower, with me.
One of the articles was titled, "Did Jesus Really Die on a Cross?", and was disputing the actual fact, claiming that the Romans crucified people on a pole (the argument being that if it was a pole, it wasn't a crucifixion, but just an execution), which is why many of the New Testament writers use the word "tree".
It goes on to question why some people would venerate the very object of execution. They used the age-old argument that if my Father was stabbed to death, I would wear a knife around my neck to remember him by.
Of course not.
This made me think about why I wear a Cross around my neck.
Not only do I wear a Cross, but pretty much every single room in our house has either a Cross or a Crucifix hanging on the wall. On our bedroom, we have a carving of the face of Christ, over a Cross, crowned with actual thorns from the Middle East.
Added to this, one of my favourite Catholic traditions is on Good Friday when we venerate the Cross. This is when we kneel in front of the Cross - some simply touch it in reverence - others, like myself, kiss it.
When I venerate the Cross am I venerating the instrument of execution? I am not really actually venerating the "cross", but what it stands for. This is why it's actually irrelevant whether Jesus was crucified, or merely nailed to a pole.
The Cross is a symbol of Love.
Jesus did say "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me
" (Matthew 16:24). Did he actually mean, "take up the instrument of torture and execution"? Absolutely not. He meant, accept your suffering. Deny yourself all those things that make you feel good, proud and righteous, accept your suffering and follow Christ, because He did exactly that (both figuratively and literally).
But does that mean we need to go looking for suffering? Again, absolutely not. It presupposes that with life comes a certain amount of suffering and this suffering is necessary for life (and thus, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit
" John 12:24.)
Why do I wear a Cross?
Because that Cross is a symbol of Love: undying, everlasting, faithful, free, total and fruitful love; the love that sent Jesus to the Cross so that my sins would be forgiven forever and death would be destroyed. Remember, "for God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son…
" (John 3:16). The Spanish translation of this verse, reads: "For God so loved the world that he "handed over
" His only Son…." This is exactly why in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
, Aslan gave his life, so Edmund (who had betrayed them all) could live.
That's why the wonderful Song of the Cross
that Susan Hookong-Taylor and Ana DaCosta wrote for World Youth Day 2002, goes like this: "Love, lifted on the Cross for me, my Lord, my God, my Salvation. Love, lifted high to set me free, my Lord, my God, my Salvation.
The cross is a symbol of love. This Lent, remember that when you are meditating on the cross.
Next week let's look at why we make the sign of the cross.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: firstname.lastname@example.org @deaconpedrogm