The Word of the Cross

Christians are not invited to respond to the cross with resignation, nor are they asked to think of suffering as having value in itself, or to make the cross their point of departure every time they think about the life of Jesus. They should realize, though, that Jesus' life and the form of his death, the crucifixion, were and are narrations of God: the living God who loves people even when they are evil, the God who forgives those who make themselves his enemies at the very moment when they reveal that they are enemies, the God who, in his desire that the sinner repent and live, allows himself to be rejected and killed. The cross, therefore, is also a denunciation of our sinfulness, our injustice, and our tendency to let ourselves be seduced by evil, since it is our evil that causes the Just One to suffer and be rejected, condemned and crucified. The cross has become the Christian emblem - at times exalted in a triumphalistic way, other times reduced to a decorative ornament, a superstitious gesture, or a banal metaphor for simple daily adversity. Yet unless the cross remains a remembrance of the 'instrument of our own execution,' by which we put to death our “old self" (Romans 6:6), it inevitably becomes a sign not inhabited by an event, an therefore a mystification. Martin Luther, meditating on the cross, echoed the church fathers when he wrote, "It is not enough to know God in his glory and majesty; it is necessary to know him in the humiliation and disgrace of the cross as well (...). True theology and true knowledge of God are in Christ crucified."