Anyone even mildly aware of global events at the moment could be forgiven if they indulge in a bit of despair. Threatened by pestilence, war and environmental destruction, the world could use a large dose of hope.
The Exaltation of the Cross, celebrated Sunday, Sept. 14, reminds us of the source of infinite hope, the saving mission of Jesus Christ. Through his death on the cross and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled his Father’s promise of salvation for the world.
In his new book, Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, observes that crucifixion was a uniquely cruel method of execution used by the ancient Romans. It was calculated to ensure death was anything but quick and painless. Indeed, it could take hours to die, thus maximizing suffering. Moreover, it was meant to inflict complete humiliation in an attempt to erase whatever respect and status its victim may have ever held in the community.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that this unwelcome cup be taken from him. Rolheiser argues that Jesus was not afraid to die, but sweat blood in his anguish in the face of the horrific fate that awaited him.
As we know, Jesus accepted his destiny and fulfilled the promise of his father. The joy of the first Easter was all the more exalted given the profound darkness of the events of Good Friday.
The current darkness — Ebola spreading in Africa, the growing conflagration in the Middle East and Ukraine, our own societal inaction on global warming, the fear of terrorist acts in our own cities — can seem like a new Passion, this time inflicted on us. Yet it is of our own making, the result of human weakness, greed and fear.
In such a dark world, the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ offers a light of hope. Through Christ, we can yet find our salvation.
-Joseph Sinasac: Publishing Director