Many years ago, as a kid, I saw part of a black and white movie in which a vampire, under the light of a full moon was destroyed when the hero turned the arms of a windmill, and the shadow created by the full moon was a cross.
As a kid, i thought that kind of cool. As an adult, kind of hokey.
It brings us to a question. What is the cross??
Is it a magical object that wards off evil, kills vampires? Clearly not. Is it a fashion item that we wear around our necks to show off? For some, yes.
But for us, as Christians, it must have a deeper significance. We wear it, we display it, we incorporate it in our rituals because it is a symbol of love.
It is a symbol of how Love conquers hate/death/fear/anger/grief. It is a symbol of how we as humans are to trust that God so loves us.
Jesus trusted completely in the Father’s love. This was his “power” if you will to heal, to forgive, to walk on water, change water to wine. Eventually, it will be his power to accept a horrible form of execution, death on the cross.
In that, he trusted in the love of the Father; he trust that the Father would make all good. Which we believe he did, this is the resurrection.
The Father has the same infinite, perfect divine love for us. This is the good news. The Father loves us unconditionally. This is our freedom, this is our salvation. When we rest in the love of the Father, THERE is our identity. That is who we are as a person, and as a community. We are the children of God.
Think back to Adam & Eve and the “original sin”. They gave their identity, they put their faith into an object, a thing. They became then a slave of the things, of all created things.
Jesus reversed this.
We all have a choice that make are called to make each day, many times a day. Will we choose the “Fruit” or God? Will we identify ourselves with a thing, whether it be money, power, status, political party, our religion, clothes, appearances, etc…
or will we choose love of God?
I know it sounds a bit straightforward, but the truth is, subtly we tend to make the first choice. That old ego of ours is the problem. Once we identify ourselves with the things, we then have to protect ourselves, we have to protect those things..
So we fight, we kill, we hoard, we attack, we lie, we gossip, etc . Look at our politics, look at our communities, look at our world. People suffer from this. We cause the hunger, the thirst, the wars, the poverty, the death.
Love of the Father frees us. When we truly place our faith, our hope, our identity in the love of God, then we don’t have to worry about our “things”. There is no need to attack, destroy, protect or hoard.
There is only the need to respond to the Love of the Father by loving those around us. When we are truly rooted in the love of the Father we as a community can look out for one another, ensure the well-being of all.
We as Christian thrive when we are like this, parishes thrive.
The Cross stands as a symbol against the evil of “idolatry”, of giving ourselves to things. It is not a magical object, but symbol of our daily commitment to be the children of God. To make the right decision, to continue to same choice that Jesus made…to trust in the love of the Father.
Of course, it is not easy. That is why we have the Sacraments, the signs of God’s love for us. God is constantly loving us, that is grace. It is to empower us to make the hard choices, choices that in the short term will seemingly make us suffer, but in the long term…will bring to us life.
These sacraments too remind us that we are a community, gathered around and in Christ to support one another. And to forgive one another when bad decisions are made.
It all comes down to Love, God’s love for us.
So when we look upon the cross, when we place those crucifixes and crosses around our heads, we choose love, we act in love.