When a child or an adult is baptized in the Catholic church and other Christian churches as well, the cross of Christ is traced on the baptized person’s forehead using a special oil or chrism. One Sunday a six-month old baby named Eric was baptized with water and anointed on his forehead in oil with the cross of Christ.
After the baptism Eric’s family celebrated with a big party in their backyard. Family and friends ate burgers and chips and played volleyball under the summer sun. Eric, being only six months old, was left to nap in his backyard stroller. When his mother woke him up, basted on Eric’s forehead was the image of the cross.
His Mom had forgotten to wash Eric’s face following his baptism. The oil that the priest had traced on his forehead acted the opposite of a sun screen. The cross of Christ was imprinted on Eric’s forehead. That cross was a wonderful reminder of the meaning of Baptism and of the cross Jesus carried and died on for us.
Mom and Dad had to explain the cross to the pediatrician, the neighbors, and strangers at the grocery store. For a few weeks Eric was a living sermon. It was only a bit of a sunburn, but it was the best basting a person could be marked with – the cross of Christ. A God Notice
In the movie The Last Emperor, a young child is anointed as the last emperor of China. This young emperor lived a life of luxury with a thousand servants at his command. “What happens when you do wrong?” his brother asked.
The boy emperor proudly replied. “When I do wrong, someone else is punished.”
To demonstrate this unique power that he had, the boy intentionally broke a jar, and one of his servants took the beating that the boy himself deserved.
Isn’t that is the way the world operates? The weak often take the punishment of the strong. The CEO walks off with millions while the employees of the bankrupt company walk away empty-handed. The hedge fund manager loses billions of investors’ money, but this does not put a dent in his lavish lifestyle.
But that is not the way the kingdom of God operates. The cross turns our understanding of life upside down. The King of Kings, the Lord of the Universe pays the full price on our behalf, carries our cross and then dies on it. It is hard for our minds to understand this.
This is why we as Christians were washed in baptismal waters and anointed with the oil of the cross of Christ, the chrism of our salvation.
The ashes on our foreheads this Ash Wednesday will soon be gone. None of us will have the cross of Christ etched on our foreheads like little Eric did.
But is the cross of Christ etched on our hearts? Do we feel God’s love with every beat of our hearts?
Special thanks to King Duncan
Spend a few moments looking at Jesus on the Cross this Ash Wednesday.