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The cross’ indispensable invitation

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In his book, “The Passion and the Cross,” columnist and author Father Ron Rolheiser writes, “The cross of Jesus doesn’t just reveal God as unconditional love; it also reveals how vulnerability is the path to intimacy. How is this revealed in the cross? The best place to start is with God. What the cross tells us, more clearly than any other revelation, is that God is absolutely and utterly nonviolent and that God’s vulnerability, which the cross invites us into, is a power for community with God and with each other.”

But our attraction to sin and its powerful capacity to lure us away from our loving God, often leads us to a deafness – a deafness to the message of the cross. And thus, even in its most violent forms, sin continues to seduce countless human beings to disregard their most fundamental nature as persons made in the image and likeness of our good God.

Jesus’ self-giving message from the cross, inviting us to enter into his unconditional love, vulnerability, intimacy, absolute nonviolence, community with God and each other is what you and I – and the entire world needs more than anything else.

During Good Friday’s Stations of the Cross led by Pope Francis in the Roman Colosseum (see: https://bit.ly/3vfZzpQ), a Ukrainian and a Russian family jointly wrote the meditation for the 13th station praying: “We wake up in the morning and feel happy for a few moments, but then suddenly think how difficult it will be to reconcile ourselves to all of this. Lord where are you? Speak to us amid the silence of death and division, and teach us to be peacemakers, brothers and sisters, and to rebuild what bombs tried to destroy.”

And in the 14th station composed by the parents of a migrant family driven out of their war-torn country, they share how they daily die to self “so that their children have the chance of a life without bombs, blood and persecution.” They pray: “If we do not give up, it is because we know that the great stone at the entrance of the tomb will one day be rolled away.” 

These families who have suffered so deeply, have entered into Jesus’ invitation from the cross. They have experienced, and are continuing to experience, the message that our Lord Jesus is with them, and through his unimaginable suffering, he fully understands their suffering and is leading them to help the rest of us enter into his invitation from the cross, of unconditional love, vulnerability, intimacy, absolute nonviolence, community with God and each other.

In addition to these sad, and yet heroic examples of suffering migrants and victims of war, there are countless other innocent brothers and sisters, enduring tremendous hardships, pain and death.

Abortion, poverty, hunger, starvation, homelessness, human trafficking, needy refugees, capital punishment, religious and ethnic persecution, racism, lack of medical care, euthanasia and human-related climate change disasters are among the other realities that crush fellow human beings.

In light of all this human-induced misery and death, are we – the 21st-century followers of Jesus Christ – finally willing to deeply reflect upon and selflessly act on the truth insightfully observed by Father Rolheiser that, “The cross of Jesus doesn’t just reveal God as unconditional love; it also reveals how vulnerability is the path to intimacy. How is this revealed in the cross? The best place to start is with God. What the cross tells us, more clearly than any other revelation, is that God is absolutely and utterly nonviolent and that God’s vulnerability, which the cross invites us into, is a power for community with God and with each other.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net.

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