Liturgical Year C

Walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord

Holy Week and the Easter Season have one sign uniting them together: the cross. But what a difference between Jesus on the cross and the empty cross after the Resurrection. The first is the symbol of ultimate suffering, the second the symbol of our greatest hope. We can say nothing about Holy Week and Easter without not only mentioning, but really trying to understand and to accept, the mystery of the cross.

This year we have the opportunity to meditate, during this Holy week and Easter, over the simple but very deep words of Pope Francis which he spoke in his first days as the Rome’s bishop and pope. In his very first homily, during the Mass pro Ecclesiae in the Sistine Chapel just day after his election, he spoke very clearly about the significance of the cross in the life of the Church and in our lives, too:

The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways that do not include the Cross.”

When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage - the courage - to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.

These words have important significance. Very often, in our modern western world, we can hear or read about Jesus, the Son of God, who is love (and that’s very truth), but without mention of the biggest sign of this love – the cross. All Jesus’ words and deeds would just be something nice, having happened in the past. Only his sacrifice for us on the cross makes him forever our Redeemer and Savior. Only the cross stays eternally as the sign of his love.

The empty cross after the Resurrection is the tangible witness of his infinite love which goes to the cross and beyond the cross. Finally, there is just one way to discover and to touch this love: to take, to accept and to embrace our own cross. But we must pay attention: there is a big difference between something we would choose as our cross and carrying that which the Lord gives us to be our cross. What makes the difference between these two things? To make that clear, I’ll use again words from the pope’s opening homily:
This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.

The things which immobilize us are usually things with which we (or somebody else, but not God) somehow have burdened ourselves – spiritually, psychologically or even physically, and because of which we can’t move any more. Our proper cross, however, strengthens us. Even in very hard times, with a lot of challenges, we can still see that our cross is our motivation to follow Christ and to not stop walking.
To be in Easter joy is to move, to walk, like the Apostles and Mary Magdalen – some of them even run! This “moving” Easter joy is the best sign that we are following Christ and bearing our own cross, which gradually becomes, also, our joy.

Rome, 29th of April 2013

22.03.2013.Author: p. Antun Volenik, SJ
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