September 15, 2013 by eneubauer
Reflecting upon the words of St. Andrew of Crete yesterday in the Liturgy of the Hours I am reminded of how important the work on the cross was and is today.
St Andrew of Crete say’s this about the cross in his discourse:
“Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, life itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if life had not been nailed to it, there would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ’s side, blood and water for the world’s cleansing. The legal bond of our sin would not be cancelled, we should not have attained our freedom, we should not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled.”
There was a cross, a crucifixion and ultimately a resurrection. This Christ, in a very real way stood in for us. Jesus, who was sinless, became sin for humanity to bridge the chasm that was created at our rebellion. This was no small feat in a sin stained world. The cross of Christ was and remains our bridge. It was Christ on the cross – our healer, liberator and innocent victim. It was and is Christ on the cross – our King. How important it is to remember the cross, to embrace the cross and to learn from it.
If acknowledgement and remembrance is step one on our collective journey of faith, what is step two?
St. Luke (in 9:23-24) recalls the significance of the cross and has something to say about next steps for those on (& seeking) the pilgrims path:
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”
It is Christ Himself who is crying out to humanity to learn from the cross. Acknowledging and accepting Christ’s work is only the beginning. For those desiring and willing to follow, Christ now calls us to identify with Him.
Think on this – Christ interrupted human history and manifested Himself to humanity, identified with human struggle (fully God / fully man), taught truth, suffered injustice, was hung naked on a tree, suffered total humiliation at every level and died. He did this in order that WE may experience the FREEDOM that was lost during our initial rebellion. Now He asks US, in our own unique way, to identify with Him. We are being called to bear our own cross and follow Him.
Is this really too much to ask? Shouldn’t the very idea of bearing our cross in full identification with the one who bore our sin be the very least we could do? I figure that most of us, recognizing that our true state was going to be eternal death, should be running to the cross. We should be willing to bear and embrace the cross knowing full well that this is THE BRIDGE to true freedom (now) and eternal life (@ death).
To bear the cross in this earthly life is not easy. St. Andrew of Crete does not make it look easy. The Gospel writers indicate the difficulty of bearing ones cross by couching this call to discipleship in light of Christ’s own death on the cross. But we must be challenged to think on the cross, to look upon its ugliness and challenge ourselves to a full embrace of this reality. Are we willing to:
“…take up (our) cross daily and follow (Jesus)?”
Take some time before the cross of Christ this week and imagine what it looks like for you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, the Apostles, the early Church Fathers and the long list of Saints that have embraced the cross and are following that pilgrims path toward the crucified Christ and resurrected Lord.