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Romanticizing the Cross!

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When we take a good look at the cross with Jesus hanging on it, I think that somehow we must come to realize that our sins helped to put him there. 

We cannot think that this is just an act of self-righteous Jews and brutal Romans. Every time we allow sin to seduce us with its distortions, we nail Jesus to the cross once again.

There is an old episode of MASH, in which a rather cocky young pilot comes to the MASH unit because his plane has been shot down, but he is not seriously injured. He tells everyone in a rather boasting voice that flying really gives him a high. 

“If I could not fly, this war would really by a drag”, he says. He brags that every time he flies a couple of missions they send him back to the base for several weeks of R & R. The war to him was really quite a lark.

Then one day a Korean child is brought to the MASH unit and her arm has been horribly mangled in an air attack. The young pilot is shocked at the sight. Even though it was not his plane that did it, for the first time he must face his own complicity in the brutality of war. 

For the first time he sees things not from the perspective of 10,000 feet, but in the eyes of a child who is suffering from a bombing right before his eyes.  He realizes what his bombs, his sins, have done. 

This is what is going on in the Ukraine for the past two years. Russian pilots are dropping bombs on innocent citizens, even children. They do not have the perspective of the dying and the injured below them. The same is true in Gaza. We are told that 32,000 Palestinians have been killed and 13,000 have been innocent children since October 7th.  

When you and I focus on just one person and not on a large number, as the pilot had to do, it changes our perspective. We need to see others, not from 10,000 feet, but we need to look into their eyes. This is what Pope Francis says he does – he looks into the eyes of the individual who is suffering and not on the crowd all around him. This is what Jesus does, even on the cross. 

There is a danger in romanticizing the cross, whether it hangs in a church, on a wall in our homes or around our neck. The cross is not meant to lull us, it is meant to jolt us to help us realize the real harm our words and our sins can do.

Thanks to Boguslaw Nowak for the photo. 

Spend some moments this Tuesday of Holy Week looking at Jesus hanging on the cross. 


Holy Week is a time to share: Do catch my Podcast. 

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