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Choosing the Cross

Thursday, April 18, 2019

How would you like to die?

 It’s not a question that many of us want to consider and, when we are forced to confront it, we are most likely to say something like, “in bed, surrounded by my family,” or, “doing something I love.“ The fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, God is the One Who determines that. Whether we live for a hundred years or a hundred seconds is something that God knows and is accordance with the state of Creation. Our physical death is the means whereby the influences of sin and evil in our lives are brought to an abrupt halt. While we all accept that we must die, what we cannot do, and perhaps are resentful about it, is choose how and when we are to die. It is knowing that there are a million and one unpleasant ways to die that causes our fear. Perhaps it is not so much the fear of being dead, but the fear of dying that is uppermost when we consider our own ends.

But would you choose to be Crucified?

Once we realise the actual, physical mechanics of Crucifixion and the biological impact that it has on the body then we begin to realise what happens to Our Lord Jesus Christ on Good Friday. We begin to realise just how beaten up He is before He even gets to see Pontius Pilate. We begin to realise the extent to which His body is lacerated by the scourge before He even reaches the Cross. And as for the Crucifixion itself…

It is once we consider the science of crucifixion that we just begin to step into a tiny inkling of what this Greater Love of which Our Lord speaks. That He would willingly give up His life in this particular manner on behalf of all humanity is humbling in the extreme and utterly inconceivable. And yet, we are still faced with something even more galling.

Given the many and varied ways that human beings have managed to dispatch each other over the centuries, why does God choose Crucifixion? Could the sacrifice not be made like Sydney Carton in a swift manner? Or like Archbishop Romero with a gunshot during Divine Worship? Even the sacrifices of animals demanded by the Torah have a quick dispatch rather than the long, tortured ordeal that Our Lord suffers. Surely, with His foreknowledge and His knowledge of our subjunctive existence (the things that might be) as our indicative existence (the things that are), God need not suffer so much.

And then it strikes again, like some thunderbolt. The Reason that God chooses this is not out of His necessity, but for ours. Our need to be rescued from Evil demands such a terrible death out of sheer love for us. Not only is the ransom paid, but the suffering of every single human being is wrested from the grip of the Devil as a defeat and lifted up sky-ward as a complete and utter triumph over the whole host of Evil Intelligences. Not only are our sins nailed to the cross with Our Lord, but also our sufferings at the hand of Evil. The tree with which human beings freely choose to disobey God and thereby must accept Death as the consequence of that choice, becomes the tree whereon God Himself accepts the same consequence and thereby makes it Holy just as He hallows the waters of Baptism in the Jordan and the hands, lives and works of the Apostles through His sharing His life with them. We are hit by the fact that God would rather choose Crucifixion than let even one single person be lost to Gehenna.

This is the Love with which we are presented and Love also presents us with a free choice because it will never coerce us into accepting its advances. We still can choose to reject Christ if we wish and thus spend Eternity away from Him. Can we honestly look Him in the eye and reject Him as He hangs on the Cross for our salvation?

And what if we accept Him? What if we choose to return that love? Then we have a cross to bear, too. We, too, face crucifixion. But we can be assured that it will be the Evil and Sin that will be nailed there permanently and any and all of the pain we suffer will be that of our birth into the Resurrection of Christ where no evil, no suffering, no pain, no sorrow, no conflict can ever touch us.

 If Christ chooses the Cross, then we must too. It is our glory and our victory. In choosing the Cross, it is all finished and we rise again!

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