TAKING UP THE CROSS
The story of the crucifixion that we proclaim on the Feast of Christ the King reminds us followers of Jesus that his Kingdom is not a kingdom of glory and power. Rather, it is one of service, love, and complete self-giving, in order to rescue human beings from evil, sin, and death.
Used to proclaiming the “victory of the Cross,” we run the risk of forgetting that the Crucified One has nothing to do with a false triumphalism that renders wholly meaningless the most sublime gesture of God’s humble service toward his creatures. The Cross is not a kind of trophy that we show others proudly, but the symbol of God’s crucified love that invites us to follow his example.
We sing, adore, kiss Christ’s Cross, because in the depths of our being we feel the need to thank God for his unfathomable love. We should not forget, however, that the first thing Jesus asks of us insistently is not to kiss the Cross, but to carry it. And this consists simply in following his footsteps with responsibility and commitment, knowing that the path leads us sooner or later to share his painful destiny.
We are not allowed to approach the mystery of the Cross passively, without any intention of carrying it. That is why we need to be very careful about certain celebrations that could create an attractive but dangerous atmosphere around the Cross, if they distract us from faithfully following the Crucified One, making us live with the illusion of a Christianity without the Cross. It is precisely when kissing the Cross that we need to hear Jesus’ call, Whoever wishes to come after me … must take up his cross and follow me.
For Jesus’ followers, to defend the Cross is to draw close to the crucified people to serve them, to bring in justice where the defenseless suffer abuse. It is to cry out for compassion where there is only indifference in the face of those who suffer. This will bring us conflict, rejection and suffering. It will be our humble way of carrying Christ’s Cross.
The Catholic theologian Johann Baptist Metz insists on the danger that the image of the Crucified One may hide from us the faces of the crucified people today. According to him, a serious phenomenon is taking place among Christian in affluent countries: “The Cross does not disturb anyone anymore, it no longer has a sting; it has lost the tension that following Jesus entails, it does not call us to be responsible, but rather to get rid of it.”
Do we not all have to reexamine what our true attitude before the Crucified One is? Should we not approach him more responsibly and with greater commitment?
20 November 2016
34th Sunday O.T. – Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (C)
Luke 23, 35-43