Monday, April 13, 2009

Cross, Not Crucifix

On Good Friday, we are invited to embrace and reverence the cross. A cross is one that does not have the body of Jesus on it. A crucifix has a body on it. There is a reason for the difference. On Good Friday, we have just finished proclaiming the Gospel of John. The Passion there ends with the burial of Jesus. The cross is empty. It now becomes our decision as to how we will relate to this cross. Will we embrace it and make it our cross, that is to say, we will believe, or accept, or see that suffering is redemptive, rather than something to be avoided at all costs?

The Passion of John has parts to be read by the congregation. These include Peter's denial of even knowing his friend, the people crying out to crucify Jesus because he upset their way of viewing their faith, the soldier who slapped Jesus during the trial before the religious leaders, Pilate who flaunted his power in front of Jesus and who asks, "What is Truth?" If we do not embrace the cross, then we might become any one of these types of people. That is why the congregation gets these lines in the missalette.

When we reverence the Crucifix, we are thanking Jesus for saving us. When we embrace the Cross, we are responding to being saved. We all love Holy Thursday when we celebrate the Eucharist. We like to be fed by the Body of God. But on Good Friday, that sacred food calls for a response.

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