by Ken Rolheiser
Our hope in the Cross of Christ 

In a pastoral scene in England a tourist witnesses a shepherd trying to gather his sheep as a storm approaches. The storm breaks overhead; he stands tall in their midst and continues to call out to them.

When life’s storms surround us, we call out to Jesus on the Cross. He continues to stretch out his arms to shelter us. "Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1).

Constantine had a vision of a cross and was instructed, “Conquer by this sign.” He spread Christianity throughout the Holy Roman Empire.

Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (Numbers 21:8-9). To this day this symbol of healing appears as the caduceus in the medical profession.

The Carthusian monks and nuns have never changed their way of life. Founded by St Bruno over a thousand years ago, they remain faithful to the Christian way of life: “The cross remains constant while the world turns.”

In 1998, when Pope John Paul II’s health began to seriously deteriorate, Cardinal Ratzinger described the Pope saying, “The pain is written on his face. His figure is bent, and he needs to support himself on his pastoral staff. He leans on the cross.” 

A universal Christian symbol, the cross is a sign of hope. We begin our prayers with the sign of the Cross. We wear the cross on chains about our necks, put it on our cars and on top of our churches. We are marked with the cross at Baptism, and on Ash Wednesday.

And every Good Friday we gather about the Cross of Calvary and ponder the mysteries of the great sacrifice that restores heaven to us and enables us to be daughters and sons of God.

The Knights of Columbus in Knightline Vol.38, No.6, April 9, 2020, tells us:
From the cross on Calvary hill Jesus spoke seven times, the “seven last words” of Christ. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24). Our God forgives our ignorance!

“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43). What wonderful hope we have if we but turn to Jesus!

“Woman, behold your son … Behold, your mother.” (John 19:26-27). Mary, who stays with Jesus throughout his dying, now becomes our Mother and the Mother of the disciples and the Church.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27). The humanity of Jesus cries out through the pain and suffering. He is one of us!

Jesus, feeling every bit of human pain and suffering, cries out his sense of abandonment.

“I thirst.” (John 19:28). “It is finished.” (John 19:30). The mission of our salvation completed, Jesus gives up his spirit.

When we are afraid, when we face illness or death, we turn to the Cross for comfort. “Do not be afraid - I am with you! I am your God - let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.” (Isaiah 41:10, Good News Bible).

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit!

(560 words)