September 14th is traditionally the Feast of the Cross in the Catholic Church. Why would anyone celebrate this instrument on which Jesus died? In his day, the cross was used to kill a common criminal. It was the death penalty of first-century Palestine.
Like many beliefs connected to our brother and friend, Jesus, the cross is full of paradox. Yes, it is a symbol for death. And, it is also a symbol for victory or triumph. Anytime we see a cross, we should be reminded that love will always be more powerful than hate. Peace and non-violence is much more successful than war or division. Did you not hear that in the memorials for 9/11? Forgiveness and compassion are what have lasted in the stories of that day, even after 10 years. Have you ever had anyone who would not forgive you? Or, have you ever held on to some hurt or hate in your own life? The gnawing feelings inside of us end up hurting us more than the person with whom we struggle.
Different cultures have different crosses which represent the theology or religious beliefs of the people. I love this cross from Central America. In the body of the cross are scenes of women from everyday village life. They represent the Crucified Christ who always reminds us that God’s love will never fail us. The witness of this cross encourages me to be the love of God in the lives of others.
What do you see when you look at the cross? What does the cross encourage you to do or be? Peggy Ryan, OP
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin