Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What Makes Us Live

John calls the Lord’s Cross an ‘exaltation’, an elevation to God’s throne on high. John brings Cross and Resurrection, Cross and exaltation together in a single word, because for him the one is in fact inseparable from the other. The Cross is the act of the ‘exodus’, the act of love that is accomplished to the uttermost and reaches ‘to the end’ (Jn 13:1). And so it is the place of glory—the place of true contact and union with God, who is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:7, 16).

Jesus of Nazareth 1, 73

Reflection – The Cross is the place of glory. We are preparing in the Church to spend some time contemplating the Cross of the Lord. Do we experience it as the place of glory? And what does that mean, anyhow?

‘Glory’, scripturally, is the Hebrew word cavod, which is derived from the Hebrew word for ‘weight’. Caved is the verb ‘to be heavy’, and so cavod is the true weight of a thing, its true value, its interior reality.

So the Cross is the glory of God, because it is here that God reveals Himself to us to the utter extent of His self-revelation. The absolute revelation of God is not in mighty deeds of earth-shaking power or astonishing miracles of healing and deliverance. It is a man being stripped naked, scourged and bloody, mocked and spat on, carrying his heavy cross to the place of death, nailed to it, and dying on it.

This is the absolute revelation of God; this is the glory of God. We see in this strange and terrible sight the extent of God’s love for us, the extremes to which He was willing to go to save us.

But why these extremes? How does it save us? What on earth is this about? These are real questions, and not to be lightly passed over. And at the heart of it is, I venture, a mystery hidden in God’s unfathomable wisdom. In other words, we probably won’t fully know what it’s all about until He tells us personally.

But I would say that the wound of humanity, that which leads us to death and dissolution, is precisely our separation from God, our alienation from him. And this alienation is ‘death’ for us, in objective reality. God is life; apart from Him, all is dead.

And so God bridged the gap of separation at the very point where it is most acute. We die apart from God; God joined us in that death. Our separation is occasioned by our disbelief in God’s goodness and love (cf Gen 3); God shows us the depths of his love by dying for us.

At the very heart of everything in the world that is foul and dark, newness and light blossom. At the very heart of all in the world that is broken and wounded, the Healer of All has taken up his permanent place. At the very heart of everything in us that is disbelieving, mocking, scornful, rebellious, He stands perpetually telling us, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

And at the heart of everything that is dead in us, the Life of the world comes to us. This is the glory of God, this is the place where the Truth of God is revealed, this is the place where the Goodness of God is manifest; this is the place where the Beauty of God shines from the face on the dead Christ, a beauty that bears us forward into the Resurrection on the third day.

Happy Holy Week to you all.

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