By Fr. Roy Cimagala
Indeed, it is Christ’s cross that does the trick. Our own salvation, our capacity to open heaven’s gate has to pass through the cross of Christ, and not just any cross. Christ’s cross is the key.
It’s in Christ’s cross that all our sins are borne by Christ himself and forgiven. It’s where our death leads to our life everlasting. It’s where we can truly say we are united with Christ.
We need to carry that cross, as Christ himself said. “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mk 8,34) We need to do everything to fulfill this indication of Christ everyday.
Any suffering we have in this life, be it physical, moral or whatever, can be considered as the cross of Christ as long as we unite that suffering to Christ’s redemptive suffering and death on the cross. That’s simply because Christ has made as his own all the suffering we can have.
We can make use of some human devices so that we can be reminded of this wonderful truth of our faith. One such device can be the practice of carrying a little crucifix in our wallet, and taking it up from time to time to kiss it.
This can be done especially just before going to bed so that we can associate the ending of our day with this sublime sacrifice of Christ which we should try to reflect in our life. We should try to end our day the way Christ ended his life here on earth.
We can also do it upon waking up in the morning to signify our intention to carry the cross the whole day. It should mean that we are willing to suffer the way Christ suffered. We should be willing to take on any offense the way Christ accepted all the offenses and sins of men by accepting his death on the cross.
We should try not to over-react to any suffering that can come our way. As long as we unite with the suffering of Christ, we can manage to echo what St. Paul once said:
“We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor 4,8-10)
These words were spoken by St. Paul in the context of showing how our weakness and suffering—the fragile clay jars that we are, as St. Paul describes us–can actually show God’s power working in us. In the same letter, St. Paul precisely said that it’s when we are weak that we are strong. (cfr 12,10)
It’s important that our attitude and reactions to suffering of whatever kind conform to this reasoning of faith expressed by St. Paul. It’s a reasoning that perfectly captures the reason behind Christ’s willing acceptance of his suffering and death.
It is this kind of suffering, this kind of cross that led to Christ’s resurrection, and that will lead to our resurrection too. This is the kind of cross that opens the gates of heaven for us!
Fr. Roy Cimagala is Chaplain, Paref-Springdale School, Lahug, Cebu City. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org