Why should we love the cross?

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE quick answer to that question is because the cross, that is, Christ’s cross, constitutes the supreme act of love Christ has for us. And if we love Christ as we should, and he clearly said that we have to love one another as he has loved us, then we should learn how to love the cross the way Christ loved it. It’s how we can truly become Christ-like, or God-like as we should.

Loving the cross is how we can truly love which is the very essence of our humanity as it is the essence of God in whose image and likeness we have been created.

The cross signifies that total self-emptying of ourselves just like the Son of God emptied himself to become man to save us. It turns our unavoidable sinfulness into a “happy fault,” a tremendous ransom God pays for us out of sheer love. It is the fulness of redemption, the fulness of love.

We are reminded of this crucial truth of our faith on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrated liturgically on September 14. In a sense, we can say that with this feast, we are urged to love the cross of Christ.

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. They are not the real love meant for us.

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!

If we have to learn how to truly love, then we have to follow Christ all the way to the cross. It would be helpful that everyday we have this instinct to always look for the cross of Christ. Christ himself told us that to follow him we should deny ourselves and the carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24)

To be sure, the self-denial asked by Christ is not of the kind that leads us to our self-annihilation. Far from it. It will rather lead us to our self-fulfillment. It is asking that instead of our own selves, we should have Christ as the center of our attention always, the very core and substance of our consciousness. We need, of course, to exercise our faith to live by this divine indication.

And the reason is simple. Christ is the very pattern of our humanity in its original state and the redeemer of our damaged humanity. It’s him in whom we can have our ultimate fulfillment, our true and lasting joy and peace. That’s why Christ said he is “the way, the truth and the life” for us. We cannot go to God, our Father and creator, except through him.

We need to be wary of certain current ideologies and lifestyles that would put Christ aside. To be with Christ always, we need to love the cross.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com