By Fr. Roy Cimagala
IT’S Good Friday! The mood, the atmosphere takes on a very dark hue. And despite the many secularizing and paganizing elements around these days, somehow we assume a most serious face as we commemorate, bring to mind, and liturgically make present, the very passion and death by crucifixion of the Son of God, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Yes, the readings are long, (cfr. Jn 18,1-19,42) but thanks to God, we have learned how to bear the experience and to make alive and be part of the very events narrated in those readings. We try to draw meaningful and spiritually vivifying insights from the prayers offered on this day.
The main lesson we can derive from this celebration of the death of Christ is that we have a great and essential need for the cross of Christ. We need to know the purpose of the cross because the cross, through Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, is where everything in our life is resolved. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection is the culmination of Christ’s redemptive mission on earth.
Yes, Christ preached. He performed miracles. But in the end, he had to offer his life on the cross because no matter what he did, our sins are such that they simply cannot be undone and forgiven through the preaching of the truths of our faith and the tremendous effects of the miracles. Christ has to offer his life on the cross!
In other words, the cross and all the suffering it involves are the consequences of our sins which need to be forgiven and undone. And that can only happen when with Christ, we go through the consequences of our sin by suffering them with Christ on the cross. Thus, the cross of our sins has been converted by Christ into the cross of our salvation. That’s how we have to understand the cross and all the suffering it involves.
We should not be afraid of the cross. In fact, we should be looking forward to have it if only to help in Christ’s continuing work of our redemption. We need to understand that unless we love the cross, we can never say that we are loving enough. Of course, we have to qualify that assertion. It’s when we love the cross the way God wills it—the way Christ loves it—that we can really say that we are loving as we should, or loving with the fullness of love.
We have to be wary of our tendency to limit our loving to ways and forms that give us some benefits alone, be it material, moral or spiritual. While they are also a form of love, they are not yet the fullness of love.
We have to realize more deeply that the cross heals what is sick and wounded in us, resurrects what is dead, forgives what is sinful. There is no evil in man and in the world that cannot be handled properly by Christ’s cross. That’s why we should not feel at all hopeless when we find ourselves in a deep mess, often created by our own selves, our own foolishness.
The cross symbolizes all evil and sin, and with Christ embracing it and dying on it, the cross gets transformed from being a tree of death to a tree of life. It effects our redemption. We should not be afraid of the cross. In fact, we should learn to love it.