Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spirituality: John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., Consoled by the Cross

Remember: There were two thieves flanking Jesus at Golgotha. One of them wanted to be saved from the cross “Save yourself and us,” he says, echoing those who mocked Jesus a few verses earlier. But the man known as the “good” thief seemed to know a deeper truth: We are not to be saved from our crosses; we are saved only in and by his cross.

Contemporary self-made men and women may not feel the need to be saved. Even some Christians are more comfortable with Jesus, the “ethical Teacher,” the Middle Eastern ironic sage or even Jesus, the social reformer.

If we do manage to acknowledge our wounded condition or the torn state of the world, we might muster up some words like those of the first thief: “Why don’t you stop this?” “Save us from all that besets us, [that which] we are reluctant to endure.”

Our need is far more radical than that: We must be saved from ourselves and what we bring on ourselves. Our own wounds as well as the wounds of the world cannot be abolished. The only solution is that the wounds be entered and transformed by love itself.

Since we cannot escape what we are, the only way to be saved is for our God to be with us, to abide with us even on our cross and in our chaos.

On our cross, shared not only with the good thief, but by the Incarnate Word himself, we receive the promise – not only for today but for eternity.