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Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Cross or The Crucifix?...A Simple Reflection

Here is sharing with you a simple reflection as we journey towards the Easter Vigil of the Holy Triduum.

Why would millions of people around the world today want to follow and have relationship with a man hanging on the gallows – the Cross…the Crucifix?

It is just so out of this world…so morbid…so repulsive…such an unsuitable sight…so crude…such an awful instrument of torture.  Many people have resorted to commercialize or to soften the image, eradicating the sombre side, the bloodiness, by removing the figure on the Cross…leaving just a bare Cross…some believe this move to be a better image of the risen Christ…depicting the Cross as the place for true glory…

In the process of doing so, people hope to result in a Christian religion that is more cheerful...more popular...more acceptable...more marketable...   This softened image might have just withdrawn the Cross from the reality of human tragedy.

“A faith which speeds through the idyllic days of Galilee to the Easter garden, with Good Friday missed out, is a faith trivialized, turned into opium of the people, a way of escape.  ….What the eye don’t see the heart don’t grieve about.  …To be truthful, religion too must enter the darkness and face the fact of evil.  …True religion is that which bears the marks of the Passion and is thus able to touch the hearts of those who are haunted by the ghastliness of the world.” (Peter Cornwell, On the River’s Edge)

Ghastliness of the world can be construed as the evils that threatens, diminishes and destroys human fulfillment; poverty, injustice, suffering, human wickedness, indifference, earthquake, famine and disease…all these cast a dark shadow over the world.

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled…” (1 Peter 1:18, 19, Douay Rheims)

Wikipedia defines Crucifix as coming from the Latin Cruci fixus meaning “(one) fixed to a cross” a three dimensional cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus (Latin for "body"); a holy symbol especially important and evident in all the Catholic Church.

Sadly, even in the midst of this Easter Triduum, there are still those that claim to follow Jesus that still do not accept the Cross as a symbol of Christianity; regarding this as idolatry. Some others view it more appropriate to have crosses without the corpus as Jesus has been raised (aiming to focus more on the glory rather than the suffering) – reducing the Cross of its true meaning of the real Cross of Jesus Christ.

Catholics throughout tradition continue to believe that the Cross, an instrument of torture and humiliation, only becomes meaningful with the presence of Jesus Christ on it; the corpus. Jesus was probably the first to embrace the cross on the way to Golgotha, transforming and redefining it into something that is to be revered.  Having said that, the resurrection of Jesus at Easter is similarly exulted no less in many ways within the Catholic Church rich liturgy and apostolic tradition.

“…without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22, Douay Rheims)

This Easter Triduum weekend, we remember that the Cross of Jesus Christ, is not just any two beams of wood.

The precious blood of Jesus shed on the Cross has transformed these cruel wooden beams to becoming a holy instrument for our salvation and redemption for all our sins.  The Passion and Jesus cannot be separated from the Cross.

Ultimately, it is the Crucifix that serves as the holy symbol of our redemption, salvation and hope of eternal life.

When we meditate on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, we solemnly gaze at the Crucifix, we reverently and prayerfully kiss the Crucifix, wear and carry the Crucifix…because we want to remember that our salvation came at the greatest of cost; there was a huge price to be paid by the Son of God for the salvation of humanity.

We remember also the sins of mankind, caused by our fallen nature...our human condition…the suffering Jesus had to endure…the consequences of our sins that nailed the Son of God on the Cross.

The Crucifix reminds us all of the great love of God…that at the end of the day, we are all great sinners in need of His Divine Mercy.

As we move into the hours before Easter…prayerfully gaze at the Crucifix and remember…your journey.

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