The Cross, the Way to the ‘Beyond’
Fr. Francis Scaria
The Letter to the Hebrews (12: 2) reminds us that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame”. One who does not see beyond the cross cannot go to the cross. The cross is an instrument, not the goal; it is a means, not the end. It is the nobility of the end that makes the means noble. Cross was an instrument by which God chose to redeem the sinful humanity.
If we are short-sighted, we cannot endure the cross. Jesus teaches us that at the time of sufferings, we should not concentrate on the cross but on where the Cross takes us. The cross is the way not the destination. The way of the cross is not the distance we cover carrying the cross, but the cross itself. It is not the way through which the cross is dragged on. Cross itself is the way- the way to ‘Beyond’. There is joy beyond the cross.
If we perceive this joy, we shall be able to follow the example Paul and Silas. “The crowd joined in attacking them; and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:22-25). Paul and Silas refused to lick their wounds and withdraw into self-pity, but they were captivated by ‘the joy beyond the cross’.
If we are able to see beyond the cross, the cross can be a source of Joy. That is why Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt 5:10-12)
It was impossible for the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24) to accept the cross, because they could not see the ‘joy that was set before them’. Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from the Cross (cf. Mt 16:22), because he could not see ‘the joy that was set before him’. Easter calls to celebrate; we can celebrate only if we have carried the cross seeing the joy that is set before us.
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