The cross reveals God to humanity
Gospel for Sunday, April 9, 2017
By Glen Argan
Across the centuries, the cross has brought people to conversion. The Church has its members who have entered into its midst because of the will of their king or their parents. Many of those have also come to faith.
But faith always means an acknowledgement of the cross-and-resurrection as not only the ultimate human reality, but also the ultimate divine reality. To know God, we must either know him as total self-giving love or not know him at all.
The Trinity is the self-giving of the Father to the Son and of the Son to the Father. Such love bears fruit in the Holy Spirit who is both the “product” of love and the bond of divine love itself.
So, when we come to the story of Christ’s passion and death, we encounter not merely an account of a long-ago event, but the ultimate centre of reality without which existence is without sense or meaning. The cross is not a moment which passes away. It defines God’s reality; it defines authentic human reality.
Often, it is asked if Christ would have had to suffer and die if Adam had not sinned. Part of the meaning of the cross is atonement for the sins of humanity; the making-good for sin requires the perfect victim to offer the perfect sacrifice for the redemption of all.
Yet, the cross is more than that. God chose to reveal himself to us, revelation which could not occur without the incarnation, cross and resurrection.
“Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2.6-8).
Christ is glorified through his sacrifice on the cross. By his acceptance of death via divine love, eternal life is poured out on all who believe in him. His lying in the tomb for two days may obscure the point: The ignominy of the cross and the victory of the resurrection are one event.
The cross-resurrection has drawn millions to Christ. This God is not a god who hovers above the mass of humanity, removed from our cares and woes. God has shared in the human condition – suffering, death and more – and by that sharing, makes us whole.
The figure of Jesus in his public ministry intrigues humans yearning for lasting peace and wholeness. He is more than intriguing when, through the lens of the cross-resurrection, we look back on that ministry.
Through that lens, his whole life is seen as marked by the cross. It reveals to us not simply teachings and healings which we can compare with those of other significant “spiritual” leaders, but the very nature of God.
Christ calls out to us to love as he loved, not so that we might become good people, but rather so that we might share in divine life. In the cross, the fullness of God is revealed, a fullness that is ever attractive to finite, wandering humanity.
[Matthew 21.1-11; Isaiah 50.4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2.6-11; Matthew 26.14—27.66]