My dear friend, Fr John Cusick, invited his Facebook friends to meditate on what they see when they look at the Cross of Jesus.
And so I have spent some time in silence contemplating the scene at Calvary. And have come away with many words rushing at me: love, fear, sacrifice, for me?, commitment, horror, pain, glorious.
But I think what I most see when I look to the cross is an example of self sacrifice. I see what I am called to be. I literally see the body of Christ.
And then the questions come.
Can I be someone who sacrifices this much for others? How about even a quarter as much? Can I do that while being silent and not complaining or whining? Can I give to those I have not personally encountered?
How about forgiving? Can I be forgiving of those who have done horrible things to me, far less than what people did to Jesus? Could I forgive friends when they have not been there for me? Could I look on those who revile me with love? Could I forgive a best friend who denies even knowing me?
How about offering? Could I continue to offer myself even when I am too tired and weary? Could I promise the good thief that I would always remember him? Could I give someone hope when things seemed hopeless? In the face of death could I have enough faith that God would take care of me? When it feels like God has abandoned me could I offer my spirit to God, letting go of my own humanity?
When I look to the cross, I see the body of Christ and then I see how far I am from it. How afraid I am to come nearer to the body of Christ and how I need 40 days of Lent to even take only one more step towards it.
When I look to the cross I see those that sacrifice their own lives in Central America, these days especially in Honduras, where death is all around. I see those who have lost their lives in the struggle for justice as the Jesuits in El Salvador did along with Archbishop Romero. I see those crucified again in places like Libya and Afghanistan. I see the poor in Africa with ribs showing begging for food and clean water as Jesus says “I thirst.”
In the cross, I see the commitment of married people who struggle to make ends meet and who stay together through it no matter what comes. They continue to get up again and again when they fall under the weight of what overwhelms them, but they continue on nonetheless together for this is what happens when you love too deeply.
The cross. When we love too radically, when we count everyone, when we forgive those who we don’t think deserve our forgiveness, when we offer more that we think we have to give….
When we stretch our hearts farther than we think they can go….
When I see the cross of Christ, I see the Body of Christ and it beckons me to become more than I am. It calls me to become all that I am, to give everything I have not just for those I love, but for all those I am called to love, or even love better.
It is this love that even defeats death, if we are brave enough to embrace the cross with all that we are.
Today, let us pray that we have enough patience and fortitude to love better than we think we can. Let us live and love with abandon so we might know what it is to be the Body of Christ. And may looking to the cross on this Good Friday be enough for us to become all that Christ calls us to be.