Sunday, 31 August 2014

Christianity without the Cross


Matthew 16 : 21-28 Douay Rheims

21From that time Jesus began to shew to his disciples, that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the ancients and scribes and chief priests, and be put to death, and the third day rise again. 22And Peter taking him, began to rebuke him, saying: Lord, be it far from thee, this shall not be unto thee. 23Who turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.
24Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it. 26For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? 27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works.
 28Amen I say to you, there are some of them that stand here, that shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

I prefer this version of today’s Gospel reading as Our Lord says to Peter “thou art a scandal to me” as well as calling him “Satan.” The word “Satan” means in Hebrew – an adversary, or one that opposes. So Peter who had just recognised Our Lord as the Christ now fails to understand what that actually means.

I know very good people, Christians who refuse to have crucifixes in their homes or wear necklaces with a crucifix. For them Jesus is always risen. Some former Catholics have rejected  or rather moved away from the crucified Christ maybe to join more “joyful” Churches.

I think there can be a problem in Catholicism in almost “wallowing in the cross.” By this I mean almost an awe and admiration given to those who are suffering and seeing it as something that distinguishes the religious and holy.

It is true that we are all called to suffer and endure but St Pio who suffered enormously was instrumental in setting up the Hospital for the Relief of the Suffering.

Oftentimes we see good Catholics with sad, miserable faces (mea culpa) when the main characteristic of the Saints in suffering was joy. It is this dichotomy to make our faith joyful and attractive even through many sufferings.

Jesus has redeemed us by His Holy Wounds and we should participate in His sufferings making up what is lacking (1.) in a joyful, cheerful way. Not easy but necessary if we wish to keep our young people in the Church.


1.     .  (2 Corinthians 11:24)”Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church”