Things have been pretty quiet around here lately, partially because life it eternally nuts and also because I’ve been wrestling with some really weighty issues. Maybe it’s because we’re getting deeper and deeper into Lent so I’ve got these things on my mind already, but I find myself struggling with anger, fear, frustration, guilt, and feelings of unworthiness, loneliness, and doubt. So basically, I’m Catholic. (Ba-dum-ching!)
Did you get that that was a rim shot? ‘Cause it totally was.
I think this happens to us all from time to time. Not bad sound effects, though those happen too, but these moments of spiritual, mental, and physical grief. These are times when we just can’t wrap our brains around situations, around suffering, around life. And these are the times we need the cross.
And I don’t know about you, but the times when I so need the cross are the times I feel the cross is so unfair. When I’m struggling with my sins, the cross is hard for me to handle. The cross is ugly. It is violent. It asks too much of Christ. I hate that I so selfishly seek my own comfort when Christ went through such agony on the cross.
Sometimes I feel like life asks too much of us all, that God asks too much of all of us. Obviously, I understand that the Cross had to happen, has to happen, for us and for our salvation, but that doesn’t make it any less hard.
Now, I’m a firm believer in free will, and in knowing that bad things happen as direct consequences of the choices we make, not necessarily because God wills bad things upon us. God is not malevolent, He is not vengeful or spiteful. He’s not out to make me pay for my sins. Quite the opposite, actually.
In all the negativity, the struggles, the fears He is present. And what’s more, He wants to make me better. It is in the wrangling with sin that I find redemption. It is in the fighting to find goodness that I see that it’s been there all along…I just needed the grace of the cross to see it.
I’ve been getting these daily Lenten reflections from Fr. Robert Barron and I really like them. The other day I read something in regards to the cross and Christ’s sacrifice that has really stuck with me:
“So the Father sent the Son all the way out into the furthest limits of God-forsakenness, but why? To usher into those places the divine light. Is death a place that God is not? No, because God is present there in Jesus. Is suffering a place that God is not? No, because the Son entered into suffering. Is sin a place where God is not? No, because God became sin on the Cross, says Paul.
Through Jesus, the divine light journeys into our worst darkness. His aim is to divinize us, to allow us to “share his divine nature” in St. Peter’s words, even in those dark places and conditions. Sin is a turning away from the divine life, and death is a fearful place that seems alien to God. But Jesus invades all those places, and thereby illumines them. He offers us new life even when we’ve wandered as far as we possibly can from God.
In that sense, the Cross was necessary for our salvation since it allowed the Hound of Heaven to hunt us down, even in the darkest places.”
I like that. I like knowing that I am hunted, pursued by a Savior who desperately wants to be with me in the midst of the darkest, most dismal places I find myself.
And there’s a deep, deep comfort in that. He’s not asking too much; he’s just asking to be with me.
6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Cross”
That is a really beautiful way of looking at it. I love that He pursues us and that He DESIRES the best for us. 😀
Thanks, Valerie! Me too!
I had a difficult time replying to this. I think all caring people suffer through times of feeling inadequate and unworthy. I think this reflection is how I choose to address these times:
Discerning the Presence
The Gospels are filled with examples of God’s presence in the word. Personally, I am always touched by the story of Jesus in the synagogue of Nazareth. There he read from Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
for he has anointed me
to bring good news to the afflicted.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives,
sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.
After having read these words, Jesus said, “This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.” Suddenly, it becomes clear that the afflicted, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed are not people somewhere outside of the synagogue who, someday, will be liberated; they are the people who are listening. And it is in the listening that God becomes present and heals.
The Word of God is not a word to apply in our daily lives at some later date; it is a word to heal us through,and in our listening here and now.
The questions therefore are: How does God come to me as I listen to the word? Where do I discern the healing hand of God touching me through the word? How are my sadness, my grief, and my mourning being transformed at this very moment? Do I sense the fire of God’s love purifying my heart and giving me new life? These questions lead me to the sacrament of the word, the sacred place of God’s real presence.
With my fundamental background it is easy for me to picture Jesus coming to save the “lost sheep.” It is a little more difficult for me to realize He comes to touch and heal those who are doing their best to follow His teachings and to make our small attempts holy!
That’s such a good reflection…thank you, Mom! I think you hit a great point, something that the church leaders during Christ’s time missed; that WE are the poor in spirit, WE are the lowly, WE are all in need of healing. It’s easy to think we’re above it all when we’re followers and that things should be easier to manage when we’re actively seeking God, but it doesn’t make us exempt. I do love the fact that there is constant healing and grace given to us all through God’s word and the sacraments. Love you!
Praying for you, friend!
I read this post this morning and the message at church today reminded me of this post. I know you have so much going on in your life but I want to send you the link to the online service because it was a great message!
Thanks! I’ll give it a listen when I can…thanks so much, friend!!