Loading
April 03, 2012
The Paschal Cross
By Jason Godin *

By Jason Godin *

The Paschal Mystery – the Passion, Crucifixion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – stands at the center of the Christian faith. Every liturgical year, from Palm Sunday through the Easter Triduum, Christians discover and rediscover the historical origins and salvific message of the Church. The extraordinary days of Holy Week nourish deep faith, true hope, and real love. They have in the past, they do so this week, and they will continue to do so until the end of time.

Encompassing Good Friday, the Paschal Mystery also features a cross. The Roman Empire employed crosses for the death penalty. But such a barren, tortuous object alone doesn’t completely explain the Paschal Mystery. Men of faith understand the cross in far more fulfilling terms. By dying in innocence for our sins and out of love for us all, Christ himself transformed the cross from a crossroads of death on earth into the way toward eternal life in heaven.

St. Matthew and St. Mark both chronicle how Roman soldiers “pressed into service” a Cyrenian man named Simon to carry the Cross (Mt 27:32; Mk 15:21). St. Luke further remarks that once the soldiers laid the cross on Jesus, they made Simon “carry it behind” him (Lk 23:26). Historical scholarship confirms that a person condemned to death in Roman times had to carry his own cross, or at the very least the crossbeam.

The first three Gospel accounts may suggest that the “way of the cross” was an imposed and impossible torture. But to carry even the crossbeam of Christ’s Paschal Cross allows each of us unique opportunities to aid and follow Christ in our own life. The cross seen from this view no longer serves as an earthly burden but as a heavenly calling. Salvation comes from Christ crucified. Indeed, the Crucifixion concludes with one of the criminals hanging beside Jesus asking him to “remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42).

The fourth Gospel by St. John characterizes the cross in the Paschal Mystery with profound significance for the Church and her followers. St. John makes explicitly clear that Jesus himself carried the Paschal Cross to Golgotha (cf. Jn 19:17). No other Gospel writer has Jesus alone carrying and controlling the cross. St. John also details how both he and the Blessed Virgin Mary stood at the foot of the cross shortly before Jesus died. Church Fathers recognize the base of the Paschal Cross as the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary received from her Son the charge as the mother of the entire Church (cf. Jn 19:25-27).

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Such a clarion call to men proves empty without the Paschal Cross. The Gospels reveal how victories over our own crosses demand that we first surrender, next seek, and always celebrate Christ conquering through the cross.

This week lift high your cross and, united closer to Christ, prepare to live stronger together forever after.         

Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. You can find him on Facebook here.

« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
17

Liturgical Calendar

April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 13:1-15

Gospel
Date
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14
Second Reading:: 1 Cor 11:23-26
Gospel:: Jn 13:1-15

Homily of the Day

Jn 13:1-15

Homily
Date
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: