Joy in the cross

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

“AMEN, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (Jn 16,20)

With these words, Christ is telling us not to be afraid of whatever evil, in any of its forms, that we would unavoidably have in this life. In other words, the cross will always be with us. But as long as we tackle that cross together with Christ, that cross will in fact be a source of joy and peace for us, for it is through it that we would attain our own salvation and that of many others.

We, therefore, have to learn to lose any fear of the cross. That instinct of ours to be afraid and to flee from the cross has to be reversed, and made into an instinct of love for the cross.

This may take time and effort, this may require a lot of thinking and discipline, this may involve some drastic and even painful adjustments in our understanding of things, but it is all worthwhile to do so.

When we lose the fear of the cross and develop the love for it instead, we would have the proper light to guide us in our life here on earth. Not only that, we can have the invincible peace and joy that is proper to us as persons and as children of God.

Thus, it is important that we have a proper understanding about the phenomenon of evil and suffering in this world. And that proper understanding comes from our Christian faith.

In the Catechism, we are told that God permits evil to happen because he respects the freedom of men and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it. (cfr. CCC 311) The Catechism further tells us regarding this point that:

“In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: ‘It was not you,’ said Joseph to his brothers, ‘who sent me here, but God…You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.’

“From the greatest moral evil ever committed—the rejection and murder of God’s only Son, caused by the sins of all men—God, by his grace that ‘abounded all the more,’ brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption…” (CCC 312)

Again it’s good to be theological in our understanding of the cross because the mere human attitude toward the cross can never fathom the crucial and indispensable significance the cross of Christ possesses.

Christ’s cross, which Christ himself told us to carry (cfr. Mt 16,24), converts that tree of death that led to the downfall of our pristine humanity in Adam and Eve into a tree of life that brings us back again to God, our Father and Creator.

It is this cross that assumes all the sins of men and destroys them. It is this cross that reopens the gates of heaven to us after it was closed due to our sins. We need to engrave these theological truths of the cross so we can be guided properly.

Only then would we find joy in the cross. It becomes our way to our greatest joy—our own salvation and reconciliation with God and that of the others!

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