Paradoxes of the Cross

God prefers to reveal His ways through paradox. Because mystery is paradoxical. But people don’t like paradox; people want clearcut answers, clearcut methodologies. And so people get confused. Why did God choose this way? Wouldn’t it have been easier and less messy if God did it otherwise, maybe by just waving his hand and telling it to be so? Perhaps; but that’s not how God operates. By preferring paradox and metaphor God is leaving doors open for us to improvise our own lives and not to fit into one mold and one mold only. Nothing God has ever done was more full of paradox than the Cross of Jesus Christ. So for my Holy Friday meditation, I offer a series of paradoxes that explore the mystery of the Cross. The author of this series of statements is Abbot Jerome Theisen (as quoted in the book The Wideness of God’s Mercy, Vol. 1). I’ve included two paintings by Julia Stankova which capture some of the paradox that I see in Christ’s death on the Cross.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Crucifixion8.jpg
Crucifixion, by Julia Stankova. Reproduced with her permission.http://www.juliastankova.com.
The Cross is a confusion for us.
There is mystery in the Cross.

The Cross is a paradox which we do not understand.
There is mystery in the Cross.

We see in the Cross an instrument of death:
Yet we acknowledge in it the way of salvation.

We see in the Cross the abandonment of Jesus by the Father:
Yet we acknowledge the crucified Jesus as the way to the Father.

We see death on the Cross:
Yet we acknowledge life through the Cross.

We see the scattering of disciples in the face of the Cross:
Yet we acknowledge the subsequent gathering of disciples around the transformed Jesus.

We see the wood of the Cross as an instrument of defeat:
Yet we acknowledge the Cross as the symbol and banner of victory.

We see a sinless and innocent person put to death on the Cross:
Yet we acknowledge the liberation of a sinful people.

We see the bleakness of the Cross:
Yet we acknowledge the Cross as a royal throne.

We see the suffering of the Nazarene on the Cross:
Yet we acknowledge the redemptive self-giving of the Son of God.

We see the life of Jesus draining out of him on the Cross:
Yet we acknowledge his life filling a reconciled world.

We see the weakness of a dying man on the Cross;
Yet we acknowledge the power of a living Lord on the Cross.

We see Jesus handed over to executioners:
Yet we acknowledge his power to control the events of life and death.

We see a servant on the Cross:
Yet we acknowledge a Lord.

There is mystery in the Cross:
And absurd joy.

There is mystery in the Cross:
And life and peace and hope.

Therefore we sing, as we did last night at the Service of the 12 Gospels:
We venerate your Passion, O Christ. Προσκυνούμεν σου τα Πάθη Χριστέ. We venerate your Passion, O Christ. Show us your most glorious Resurrection!!
Have a Blessed Holy Friday. Try as much as possible to spend some time today in silence.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Crucifixion11.jpg
Women at the Cross, by Julia Stankova. Reproduced with her permission.http://www.juliastankova.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s