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Kindness Korner

I Appreciate The Crucifix--a Thought for Lent

I Appreciate The Crucifix

The empty cross on which Jesus died, I have known all my life, is the proper representation of that symbol. Jesus was removed from that terrible device, carried to a tomb and the tomb was sealed and guarded. Then Easter! There is the heart of Christian life. Death is defeated. A new age is inaugurated. The resurrection of the body we celebrate and anticipate for the human race. So the Cross is properly vacant. Christ is risen, not hanging on the cross.

Nevertheless there is powerful and important teaching in The Crucifix. Looking at the Lord Jesus hanging there in terrible agony tells us of God’s love in a graphic way. It speaks a message softened by the empty cross. It is the message of God’s pain, and a divine love, that would experience such an awful death for his people.

I have come to appreciate and love the Crucifix. Looking at it is a lesson about love. What greater love is possible than that—dying, voluntarily, being put to death, in a terribly painful way, on behalf of others.

That is love! And we are called to live that way. Not to go to the cross literally but to leave our comfortableness to help others. Every action taken whereby we bother to reach out to lift another person is of the species of dying for another. Every tiny, medium sized or major action of giving up time, money, energy, a preference, to help someone else is a form of dying for others. Looking at The Crucifix, the dying Jesus, can serve as a reminder of what our lives must be aimed at. The Crucifix, more than the empty cross, portrays love.

Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 16:24). That is the remarkable thing in all this. We find such meaning, purpose, vitality, and hopefulness, in carrying the agenda of dying for others, every day of the week. We find life in that kind of love-giving.

The Crucifix magnifies Jesus final words: “It is finished.” A whole religion was being ended and a total new age welcomed. All the preoccupation with sin, guilt and punishment was over. “It is finished.”

Now we are called to build the Kingdom through love. Sin is forgiven. Look to the cross and see Jesus/God in absolute, horrible pain--for us. That is our inspiration, and example, for lives of loving-kindness toward others.

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