As we celebrate the Holy Week every year, we do not miss activities related to this event. On Easter Sunday, families go on excursions, malls and companies organize Easter egg hunts, holy masses and worship services are celebrated by churches, and a lot more. We have come to associate Easter Sunday to beaches, Easter bunnies and Easter eggs. I am not saying that those are bad things. However, have we ever come to the point of asking ourselves what Easter really is all about?
We seem to be missing the whole point of Easter Sunday. This is a celebration of life and salvation. It is more than just the death of Christ, but the reason why He, the Son of God, died on the cross. The ultimate symbol of Easter Sunday is the Cross. What does the cross mean to us? In this 2-part special, let’s take a look at what the Cross means to the following people, from different walks of life.
The Meaning of the Cross
Until over 2,000 years ago, the cross was considered as the cruelest and most humiliating form of punishment, imposed only against the most hated, vilest, ruthless criminals. But God gave it a new meaning, when He willingly let His Son, Jesus, die on the cross. It then became a picture of His ultimate love to all people, a Good News to all who believe and accept that Jesus died for the sins of all, was resurrected after three days, and offers a gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins to anyone who repents and believes in Him.
1. The cross is ugly.
It was devised as the most humiliating, excruciating, tortuous , public method of execution possible. Victims would be stripped naked, tied to a post and scourged and flogged with leather whips into which were woven shards of metal or glass designed to rip the skin from their bone. It was a punishment reserved only for thieves and slaves who ran from their masters against the empire of Rome. It is ugly because it reveals the depths to which human sin is represented by religion and that empire can sink, and that it is capable of the most heinous crime possible.
2. The cross is beautiful.
It reveals the depths to which the grace and love of God will go to redeem unto Himself His creation and save it from the grip of Satan, sin and death. 2 Cor 5:18-19
3. The cross is for us
It proves the love of God for us, that He gave us Jesus, His only begotten Son, to pay for our sins. John 3:16
4. We are for the cross
Jesus calls us to imitate Him and take up the cross. Laying down and forsaking the way of the world, which is vengeance, retribution, judgement, offense, unforgiveness, power and control. Taking up the cross is the way of co-suffering love. It is the way of forgiveness, of turning the other cheek, of forsaking the right to revenge. It is laying down the right to make our own way, instead choosing His way, even if it means being misunderstood, persecuted or maligned. This is the way the cross is our symbol. We die with Christ and are raised to newness of life in Him, we die to sin and rise to freedom in Jesus, we die to self and learn the justice of obedience.
The CROSS WITHOUT JESUS is not Easter but a punishment – a curse; but the CROSS WITH JESUS is salvation – a blessing.
This is what Pope John Paul II, now a Saint, wrote, which he entitled; Salvifici Dolores or “Salvific Suffering” because the cross has Jesus, because Jesus resurrected. Otherwise, as what St. Paul said in his letter, “If Jesus did not resurrect from the dead, all these faith is in vain.” What makes our faith grounded today is because Jesus is resurrected, He conquered death that before, the cross has brought.
Now, the Cross is no longer a sign of punishment, suffering, and pain but of Love. The great love of God for all humanity.
Application in today’s situation:
1. That there is a blessing to our situation as long as we invite Jesus
2. Our situation today can be salvific (salcifici dolores) if we allow Christ to lead us; accepting Him as our true God and Savior.
3. That we have our resurrection after these struggles.
The tomb is empty; the stone was rolled down and open, not for Jesus to come out but for us to get in and enter so that we can experience how much we are being loved by saving us from the darkness of sins and pains.
These people and their words definitely opened our eyes, our hearts, and our minds about the true meaning and significance of the Cross. Our beloved readers, this is just the first part! For more inspiring insights, watch out for the second part of this story.