Good Friday by Father Peter Chinnappan
GOOD FRIDAY, (April 19): CHALLENGE TO CARRY OUR CROSSES
The cross and the crucifix are meaningful symbols, as the dove symbolizes peace and the heart symbolizes love. The crucifix and the cross are the symbols of the loving and sacrificial offering of self for others. First, it is only in the cross that we see the face of God’s love. There is no greater love than that of a person who is willing to die for another, and the cross tells this love story. Second, the cross is the symbol of the remission of our sins: The Bible says that when Jesus died, he took all our sins on himself on the cross, and so he conquered sin and the devil’s power forever. Whenever we see the cross, we should realize that Jesus, bruised and crushed, died for our iniquities. “But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” (Is 53:5). Third, the cross is the symbol of humble self-emptying for others. It is the symbol of the cross-bearing Christ leading us in our life’s journey of pain and suffering, carrying his heavier cross and still encouraging us, strengthening us, and supporting us. Fourth, the cross is the symbol of the risen Christ who promises us a crown of glory as a reward for our patient bearing of our daily crosses.
(B) The Cross always means pain. But the pain I suffer for myself is not Christ’s cross unless I offer my suffering with His on the cross for the salvation of all of us. The true cross of Christ is the pain I suffer for others. It is the sanctifying pain we experience in sharing our blessings sacrificially with others. It is also the pain we suffer in controlling our evil tendencies responding to God’s loving invitation to us to a higher degree of holiness. It is, as well, the pain we suffer because we are standing with Jesus, his ideas and ideals and gladly following him and accepting scorn and humiliation from the rest of the world.
(C) Our crosses come to us mainly from four sources. Some of our crosses, like diseases, natural disasters and death, are rise from natural causes. We face other crosses when we do our duties faithfully. Our friends and enemies supply a few of our crosses. Finally, we ourselves cause many of our crosses as natural consequences of careless living and evil addictions.
(D) Good Friday presents us with the question: Why should we carry our crosses willingly? First, cross-bearing is a condition for Christian discipleship. Jesus said: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me”(Mt 16:24). Second, it is by carrying our crosses that we make reparation for our sins and for the sins of others related to us. That is why St. Paul said that he was suffering in his body what is “lacking” in Christ’s suffering. Third, it is by carrying our crosses that we become imitators of Christ in his suffering for us. St. Paul explains it thus: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2: 19-20).
Life messages: We should carry our crosses with the right motives: This means that we should not carry our crosses cursing our fate as does a donkey unwilling to carry its load. Nor should we protest as do the oxen or horses pulling their carts. Our motive should not be to earn a reward from God as hired workers labor for their wages. We should carry our crosses like a loving wife who nurses her paralyzed husband or sick child, with sacrificial love and dedicated commitment. The carrying of our crosses becomes easier when we compare our light crosses with the heavy crosses of terminally-ill patients or patients in emergency wards. We need to draw strength and inspiration from Jesus Who walks ahead of us carrying his heavier cross, while supporting us in carrying our crosses.