Planting the Cross to Bring Forth Hope!

Here we are in the middle of our journey towards Easter, towards new life! Do we really believe in it? Even if the sun tries to pierce the clouds, they close in and become more and more threatening. The words of 2000 years ago sound like déjà vu. “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed” (Luke 23:44-45).

It is difficult to believe in the resurrection when the cross takes up so much space in the world. Of course, these days, the cross is planted in the heart of Ukraine. The horror of this war reminds us that humanity has no memory… and that the threat of the mad spiral of hatred affects not only these wounded brothers and sisters but the whole world. Worse, following the war live on the news and on social media for 49 days almost anesthetizes our fear; we “get used” to everything, as long as it stays far away…

But suddenly, it is the cross of women’s murders, here, beside us. It is the cross of violence and insecurity in our streets. It is the cross of dehumanizing abuses against children, indigenous people, the poor. It is the cross of a friend who is lost in dementia. It is the cross of young people absorbed in a virtual world who refuse to take their place in reality. It is the cross of a debilitating inner suffering that no one suspects and that I carry alone, without any Simon of Cyrene to accompany me… And the cry of the Crucified One finds a throbbing echo in all these situations: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33).

All these situations close in on us like a great black curtain that suffocates and crushes. Just as the darkness seems to be taking over, suddenly a strange sound pierces the silence. The curtain of the temple – which was about 60 feet high, four inches thick, that the combined pull of horses tied on two sides would not have been enough to tear it – “behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51).

At the very moment when his Son utters the great cry of “victory”: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46), God takes the initiative – for it is from top to bottom that the curtain is torn. God himself commits himself to removing this division between himself and his people. Never again will God be restricted to a temple! Never again will a religious system confine its people to an old covenant! Never again would the religious authorities prevent the true face of God from being seen!

Bearers of a tenacious hope!

On the cross of Golgotha, it is a body that is torn apart… but not just any body! It is the God-Man who takes upon himself all the sufferings and wounds of every person throughout human history. This profound communion with the crucified allows each and every one to dare to raise his or her eyes to the Only Victim. Each one can then hear the words of Christ on the cross and be reborn to hope: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43); “It is finished” (John 19:30).

These words of Passion awaken the passion for an unshakeable hope. It is the dawn of a new day, because the Crucified One has opened a breach in the curtain of darkness that crushes the world; it cannot be closed! Just as a single dazzling ray of sunlight announces the end of the night, the water and blood that gushed forth from the heart of Christ on the cross herald the new life that is so close at hand.

It is hard to believe it when we see his body crushed by suffering… But death will not have the last word! Like the breath of God that hovered over the surface of the waters at the time of creation, the Spirit and the water are still there today ready to bring forth new life. This is a clear sign that every cross – mine, yours, ours – can be a bearer of tenacious hope.

New life arises from trial, tempered by the fire of love; it proclaims the victory of the Risen One. This victory is expressed in every gesture of consolation, in a simple word of comfort, in every concrete commitment of solidarity. Christ makes real life spring forth when the ordinary actions of every person can make our world more human and more fraternal! What a beautiful and great mission!

In this Holy Week 2022, it is time to look beyond the darkness and the dark clouds that weigh us down. It is time to trust… for this presence of the Risen One is promised to us. By planting the cross to make hope spring forth, he opens new paths for us to dare to walk. It is there, along the way, that we will meet a stranger, a living person, someone who makes us believe in true life! And everything would change if only we became witnesses to welcome the renewal of a new day that is just beginning!

Happy Holy Week! Happy Easter!

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