Take a Break for Faith Podcast Transcript
Take Five for Faith monthly meditation podcast – The Mystery of Being Saved By the Cross.
Welcome to your Take Five Monthly Meditation. This month our theme is “The Mystery of Being Saved By the Cross.” Let’s settle in with a story from a friend:
My dad had a friend who was severely paralyzed in a car accident just weeks after he was ordained a priest. He spent his many years of priesthood living and ministering at a major Chicago hospital. In his frequent visits to our house, Monsignor Tom was so jovial and interesting that it was many years before I had any notion of how much pain he lived with and just how difficult his daily life must have been.
He chose to live a life of service to those in the hospital, to people with disabilities, and to his many friends and their families. I know about that from first-hand experience. When I was 7, I wound up in the hospital, and late one evening when I was feeling particularly frightened, Monsignor Tom came rolling up in his wheelchair. He spent some time, told some stories, reminded me of how much my parents missed me, and soon I drifted off to sleep.
I think of him as someone who took up his cross daily. Now I realize that he did this not just by enduring his infirmities, but by living in such a faithful way—living as Jesus would. He let nothing separate him from the love of God, and he spread that love to many who were in great need.
Let’s move more deeply into our theme with a reflection by Father Richard Rohr on what it means to be “Saved by the Cross of Jesus”:
The cross is about how to fight and not become a casualty yourself. The cross is about being the victory instead of winning the victory. It is a way of winning that tries to bring your opponents along with you.
The cross is about refusing a simplistic win-lose scenario and holding out for a possible win-win scenario. It’s refusing to hate or needing to defeat the other, because that would only be to continue the same pattern of violence, trapped inside the never-ending wheel of non-logic the world calls business as usual.
The cross clearly says that evil is to be opposed, but that I myself am willing to hold the tension, the ambiguity, the pain of it, instead of insisting that others do it for me. "Resist evil and overcome it with good," as Saint Paul says. The cross moves us from the worldly myth of “redemptive violence” to a new scenario of redemptive suffering.
On the cross of life we accept our own complicity and cooperation with evil, instead of imagining that we are standing on some pedestal of moral superiority. What the mystery of the cross teaches is how to stand against hate without becoming hate, how to oppose evil without becoming evil. Can you feel yourself stretching in both directions—toward God's goodness and also toward recognition of your complicity in evil? If you look at yourself at that moment, you are crucified.
The goal of nonviolence is to win the understanding of your supposed opponent, not his or her humiliation or defeat. It is to facilitate reconciliation, but to realize that I, like Jesus, must pay a price for this reconciliation, so that "two might become one," as The Letter to the Ephesians says.
The mystery of the cross takes a great capacity for empathy and forgiveness. On the cross we agree to bear the burden of human evil, of which we all are victims.
We can't do it alone, but only by a deep identification with the Crucified One and with crucified humanity. Jesus then does it in us, through us, with us, and for us. Then we become his "new creation," a very different kind of human being.
Christianity shares many things with many religions, but no other world religion has the revelation of the cross. It's called a revelation because it's not something the rational and calculating mind will ever come to by itself.
The mystery of the cross says that human existence is neither perfectly consistent or totally chaotic. Human existence is filled with contradictions. To hold the contradictions with Jesus is to be a Christian, and to share and participate in the redemption of the world. It feels like a “forgiving” of reality, in a sense, and a joining with God in Love's cosmic forgiveness.
If the choice is between perfect consistency and utter chaos, don't go there. The cross holds the middle ground. The world, being neither perfectly consistent nor totally chaotic, is a coincidence of opposites, and geometrically that forms the cross. The price you pay for holding together the contradictions within yourself, others, and the world is always some form of crucifixion, but the gift you receive and the gift you offer is that, at least in you, "everything belongs."
This is what it means to be saved by the cross of Jesus. You are trapped in a truth, a big truth, but it is a trap that you choose, allow, willingly cooperate with, and even love. The payoff is that it gives you much peace and even deep joy. You no longer need to fix everything, control everything, or even understand everything to be happy. Happiness is inherent, and happiness flows out of you, from God.
Let’s continue with a reflection that moves us forward:
It’s not always easy to face the things that hurt us or our loved ones. So why would we lift up the cross, honoring that which symbolizes pain and the death of Jesus? As Christians we choose to face the cross. In doing so we encounter not only the reality of suffering and death but also the hope and belief in new life, in the “something more” of salvation. And somehow in facing our pain, instead of pretending it isn’t there or whitewashing the reality, there is acknowledgement of our vulnerability. We become open to healing. The exaltation of the cross is not only a reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is also an invitation to lift up our own pain and find in it a path to healing and wholeness.
Our scripture reflection this month comes from the second chapter of the Letter to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
This concludes our Take Five Monthly Meditation on “Being Saved by the Cross of Jesus.” We hope you have found it of benefit and we welcome your comments and feedback. You can find us at TakeFiveforFaith.com or on Facebook. The music for this month’s podcast is by Lee Rosevere. The Take Five Monthly Meditation is produced by TrueQuest Communications. Thank you for joining us this month and have a blessed day.