The Word of the Cross

Oil on board, 47x17 cm
WILLIAM CONGDOM, Crucifix n°52, 1972
Words of Spirituality
This man is Jesus the Just One, who dies as he does because of the unjust world in which he lived

What has always been seen as the ‘scandal and foolishness’ of Christianity is the event of the cross, and as a result, its metaphors and visual symbols. Christians face the temptation of “emptying the cross of its meaning,” as Paul points out in the First Letter to the Corinthians (1:17), and to those who are not Christian the cross and its logic appear inhuman or false as an attempt to respond to the problem of suffering. This has been true since the beginning of Christianity. But given the material well-being in the West today, the obsession with wealth and convenience, the search for pleasure without cost, and the conviction that everything that is technically possible and economically feasible is therefore legitimate and desirable, we have to admit that the removal of the cross is demonstrated daily in a thousand ways - some blatant, others extremely subtle - and that the foundation of Christianity seems to have faded into obscurity as a result. We might think of a number of examples to illustrate this: the attempt sometimes made today to present Christian life as if it were a constant celebration of the resurrection and nothing more, the amount of energy expended in an effort to present to young adults a Gospel that is attractive because it has been liberated of every demand that involves discipline, self-denial, 'renunciation' (an essential element of the baptismal liturgy, reduced today to an unpronounceable word), and the taking up of the cross, all expressions from the Gospel considered 'difficult' to speak about today.