March 25, 2013

As we head further into Holy Week the shadow of the Cross looms ever larger. I found this wonderful homily by Fr. Rodney Kissinger, SJ on his Seasoned Spirituality blog, which also contains a trove of resources associated with spirituality and Catholicism. Here’s his homily on the Cross and the role it plays in each of our lives, whether we know it and are willing to accept it or not:

People wonder and often ask, “Why did Jesus choose the cross?” Jesus did not choose the cross. In fact, he tried to get out of it. In the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed three times, “Father if it is possible let this chalice pass but not my will Thy will be done.”

Jesus chose to do the will of his Father; to become one of us in order to redeem us and to give us an example of what it means to be authentically human. It just happens that the cross is an essential part of the human condition. We enter the world in the pain of another and we leave the world in our own. And between the entrance and the exit there is more of the same. The cross is built into human nature.

We are not God. We are not self-sufficient, although we often think that we are. We are dependent on God. God made us for himself, and nothing else will satisfy us. This “transcendental neediness” is the source of our existential loneliness.

We are one person but we are not integrally one. We do not have integrity. Each of our faculties goes out after its own proper object heedless of the others. Our higher faculties do not have perfect control over our lower faculties as we all know by our personal experience. With Paul we find a law in our body warring against the law of our mind. Often, the good we will we do not and the evil we will not that we do. Discipline is what we need most and desire least. We all know the vulnerability of the human body. The intimations of mortality get more frequent and more impressive as we get older.

We have a lust for knowledge and certitude. We want to know and we want to be certain. And the one we want to know most about and to have the most certitude about is God. But God always remains the incomprehensible obvious. Each person is a mystery and life itself is a mystery, not to be understood but to be lived in faith, hope and love, and laughter because God loves us unconditionally and He will provide.

We are social beings. We live together in society. And when people live and work together, especially in a highly competitive society like ours, there is friction, frustration, pain and suffering. Add to this the fact that everyone has moral and professional standards that he never achieves. This results in a constant tension between our ideals and our accomplishments. Then there is the negative influence of the counter culture in which we live the temptations of the devil and the effects of our own personal sins. Human life is no adventure for a coward.

The cross can make us or break us. The same heat that hardens brick melts butter. “One ship drives east and another drives west on the self same winds that blow. It is the set of the sails and not the gales that tell them the way they go.”

The cross is an inevitable fact of human life. It can make us or break us but no one can escape it. Each one has to solve the problem of the cross for himself. And there are three possible solutions. The first is to deny the inevitability of the cross; to think that we can go through life without having to carry it. So we set out in pursuit of all the pleasure we can find and at the same time ward off all pain, sorrow and disappointment. But this is really no solution at all. How can you avoid the inevitable? How can you avoid what no human being has ever been able to avoid?

The second possible solution to the cross is to admit that the cross is inevitable, and to make the best of a bad bargain. To grit our teeth and endure what we cannot cure. This is a better solution than the first. But it commits us to a dull, dreary, monotonous, passive existence.

The third possible solution to the cross is to accept the invitation of Jesus to pick up our cross daily and follow him; to see in our cross a splinter of his cross and an opportunity to prove our love for him. Then life becomes a great adventure, a battlefield where we do battle for Christ the King. Then our suffering is transformed into sacrifice. And we know in our hearts that it costs to be a lover, that the language of love is sacrifice. And no matter how dark the prospects become we never lose heart because the victory is certain.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 03:41 | Comments Off on Contemplating The Cross
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