1 Corinthians 1:22-25
The message of the Cross is the very foundation of our faith commitment as Christians. Members of the Passionist Congregation hold the message of the Cross in a special way in their hearts. Today’s second reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians speaks to their calling as Passionists and the dedication of their lives to the proclamation of Christ Crucified. And for all of us who are believers, this reading should be a reminder of what it means to be a believer, to be a Christian, and how we are all called to proclaim Christ Crucified. Most of the time, we Christians do see Christ crucified as the power and wisdom of God. Generally, we do take up our crosses and follow Christ and usually, we answer the call to stand with the crucified of today.
But not always. The Jews looked for signs and when they saw the healings, the curing of the lepers, the raising of Lazarus, they lauded Christ, praising and glorifying him and wanting to follow him. But when he wasn’t the superman they wanted, then they turned on him. And today, we sometimes echo their sentiments. How often do we say “We believe” when everything is going fairly smoothly, but when there is a crisis in our lives, or a disaster in the world, we expect God to fix it. Sometimes when it isn’t fixed the way we want it to be, our lament becomes, “If there is a God, why does he let this or that happen?”
In the early church, the Gentiles looked for a logical explanation; a way to understand it. It all just seemed so absurd. Today, we sometimes hear it said, “It’s pretty hard to believe in a God who would let his own Son die.” Paul says to the Corinthians and to us: “Of course, it seems absurd if you don’t believe.”
But for anyone who has experienced the power of the Cross, it shines with the deepest and most profound wisdom. Demanding miracles from the Lord and questioning God’s will, we express our unwillingness to see the truth in God’s judgment and in the wisdom of God’s decisions, says Paul. We want things to be on our terms, to happen according to our wishes. Paul points to the Cross of Christ, his death and resurrection, to show that God’s ways are not our ways.
Half way through Lent is a good time to ask, do we truly believe in the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice? His Crucifixion? How do I live as a follower of Christ? What sacrifice am I willing to make?
Mary Lou Butler is a long-time friend and partner in ministry to the Passionists in California.