While the cross is an instrument of torture and suffering, it also represents the triumph of God’s love over evil, says Pope Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this today during a homily at the Latin parish Church of the Holy Cross, attended by priests, religious, deacons, catechists and representatives of Cyprian ecclesial movements, in which he addressed the question of “why we Christians celebrate an instrument of torture, a sign of suffering, defeat and failure.”
“It is true,” he answered, “that the Cross expresses all these things. And yet, because of him who was lifted up on the Cross for our salvation, it also represents the definitive triumph of God’s love over all the evil in the world.”
The Pontiff said the cross is “something far greater and more mysterious than it at first appears.” It’s not just an instrument of torture, suffering and defeat,” he explained, because it also ” expresses the complete transformation, the definitive reversal of these evils.”
“That is what makes it the most eloquent symbol of hope that the world has ever seen,” he affirmed. “It speaks to all who suffer — the oppressed, the sick, the poor, the outcast, the victims of violence — and it offers them hope that God can transform their suffering into joy, their isolation into communion, their death into life.
“It offers unlimited hope to our fallen world.”
Benedict XVI affirmed that “the world needs the cross”: “The Cross is not just a private symbol of devotion, it is not just a badge of membership of a certain group within society, and in its deepest meaning it has nothing to do with the imposition of a creed or a philosophy by force.
“It speaks of hope, it speaks of love, it speaks of the victory of non-violence over oppression, it speaks of God raising up the lowly, empowering the weak, conquering division, and overcoming hatred with love.”
“A world without the Cross would be a world without hope,” he continued, “a world in which torture and brutality would go unchecked, the weak would be exploited and greed would have the final word. Man’s inhumanity to man would be manifested in ever more horrific ways, and there would be no end to the vicious cycle of violence.
“Only the Cross puts an end to it. While no earthly power can save us from the consequences of our sins, and no earthly power can defeat injustice at its source, nevertheless the saving intervention of our loving God has transformed the reality of sin and death into its opposite.”
NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010