(St. Mungo’s Church, Glasgow, Scotland.)
The cross is the great symbol of Christianity recognised all over the world. It constantly places before us this stark yet consoling reminder: Jesus suffered and died for love of us. What else can we learn from the cross?
We are united by the cross – Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me,” implying that everyone experiences the cross - regardless of age, gender, nationality, education, economic status, or religion. Pain and suffering are universal. The positive side to this reality is that the cross has the potential for uniting us with others as nothing else can - not even our joys. Why are organisations such as AA and cancer support groups so popular and effective? Because their members are united by the cross. The cross has the power to bring together so called enemies. The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said if we probed the hearts of our enemies we would “find in each life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
The cross is a wise advisor! – The cross fosters compassion. Our own suffering often makes us more sensitive to the sufferings of others. If we live with chronic pain, have lost a loved one, or struggle with depression, we are apt to be more compassionate toward others who experience similar crosses. In Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, we are not given the background of the Samaritan;but, judging by his extraordinary compassion, we conclude: He was well acquainted with pain. We tend to look at pain and suffering in negative terms. But the cross can be a wise advisor, for it can open our eyes to what really matters in life. Suffering reminds us that every single day is a gift, family and friends are precious, we can’t go it alone, and we desperately need God’s help.
Jesus takes up the cross with us – Jesus came not to take away pain and suffering. He does something better: He is with us in our suffering. No matter what crosses we bear, Jesus understands. He has been there. He is with us. Furthermore, when we unite our pain with his, our pain becomes redemptive. And finally, the cross was not the end for Jesus. On the contrary, it was the portal to eternal life. By taking up our cross daily, we share in the glory of Jesus’ resurrection.
[Wisdom from our Friends, Living with Christ, by St. Melannie Svoroa, SND]