Strange Medicine and the Gaze that Saves: A Meditation on the Triumph of the Cross

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One of many stranger passages within the Outdated Testomony is a command Moses acquired from God. The folks had grumbled towards God and Moses for the “wretched” manna they needed to eat (Numbers 21:5). They had been sick of its bland high quality although it was the miracle meals, the bread from heaven that had sustained them within the desert. (Concentrate, all Catholics who deal with evenly or discover  the Eucharist boring!) God grew indignant and despatched venomous snakes amongst them which triggered many to die (Nm 21:6). The folks then repented and, with a purpose to convey therapeutic to them, God command a wierd and noteworthy factor: Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anybody who’s bitten can take a look at it and stay(Nm 21:8).

No Graven Pictures?? Now bear in mind it was God who had mentioned earlier within the Ten Commandments Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven picture, or any likeness of something that’s in heaven above, or that’s within the earth beneath, or that’s within the water below the earth(Ex 20:4). But right here he instructions a graven (a carved) picture. Moses made it of bronze and confirmed it to the individuals who taking a look at it turned effectively (Nm 21:9)

In a approach, it’s nearly as if God had been saying to Moses, “The folks, in rejecting the Bread from Heaven have chosen Devil and what he presents. They’ve rejected me. Allow them to look into the depth of their sin and face their alternative and the fears it has set unfastened. Allow them to look upon a serpent. Having appeared, allow them to repent and be healed, let the worry of what the serpent can do depart.”

Jesus takes up the theme and fulfills it when he says, And simply as Moses lifted up the serpent within the desert, so should the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everybody who believes in him might have everlasting life (John 3:14). Virtually as if to say, “Let the folks face their sin and see the ugly actuality that it’s and what it does to me to them and others. Allow them to face their alternative and search therapeutic repentance. Allow them to additionally see the outstretched arms of God’s mercy and discover peace.”

There’s something about dealing with our sins, our shortcomings, and our anxieties and fears. There’s something about wanting into the face of them with a purpose to discover therapeutic.  One of many glories of the Catholic Religion is that we now have by no means hidden the cross. We’ve got by no means run from it. There have been temporary instances once we shamefully de-emphasized it. However all through most all of our historical past, the crucifix has been prominently, proudly, and fearlessly displayed in our church buildings. We cling to and glory in it.

Are you aware how surprising that is? Think about, as an alternative of a crucifix in our Church buildings, you had been to stroll in and see Jesus dangling from a gallows, a rope round his neck. Crucifixion was the type of execution reserved for the worst of criminals. It was surprising, horrifying, and emblematic of the more severe sort of struggling. When the Romans noticed or considered one thing terrible they might cry out in Latin: “Ex cruce!” (From the cross!) for they might consider nothing extra horrible to check it to. And that is the place we get our English phrase, “excruciating.”  Crucifixion is brutal and terrible, a gradual, ignoble and humiliating dying: ex cruce!

 However there it’s, entrance and heart in nearly each Catholic Church. There it’s, on the head of our processions. There it’s, displayed in our properties. And we’re bid to look upon it day by day. Displayed there may be all the pieces we most worry: struggling, torment, loss, humiliation, nakedness, hatred, scorn, mockery,  ridicule, rejection, and dying. And the Lord and the Church say: “Look! Don’t flip away. Don’t disguise this. Look! Behold! Face the crucifix and all it means. Stare into the face of your worst fears, confront them, and start to expertise therapeutic. Don’t worry the worst the world and the satan can do for Christ has triumphed overwhelmingly. He has solid off dying like a garment and mentioned to us, On this world, ye shall have tribulation. However have braveness! I’ve overcome the world(Jn 16:33).

 And therein lies the important thing that the cross is. It’s the antidote to the world. It’s the world and our roots in it that trigger us the best worry. Have you ever ever observed that the extra you’ve got, the extra you worry? The extra we now have to lose, the extra we now have to worry. However by means of the Cross, and the sufferings of this world we start to find how hole and overseas this world actually is. We start to expertise that this world is a valley of tears and an exile from our true homeland. It loses its savor and so we start to focus extra on our coronary heart’s truest longing which is God and the issues ready for us in heaven. St. Paul wrote: Might I by no means boast besides within the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by means of which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14).

And herein lies the Victory of the Cross – The cross crucifies the world to me and I to the world. The cross breaks the bond, severs the unholy relationship, and units me free. The cross has a approach of serving to us to see the more true actuality of issues and the world begins to lose its maintain. It’s a unusual and onerous drugs, however there’s a energy within the cross and treatment for our soul. Sorrow struggling convey detachment, and detachment brings peace and freedom. And that is the victory of the cross, victory over the world.

Illustration-  St. John Chrysostom had suffered a lot from the world, frequent exiles and threats for emperors, heretical clergy and the like. Reputation was blended with hatred from the powers and princes of this world. However he had confronted the cross and accepted it. And now, threatened as soon as once more with exile, he mounted his pulpit in Constantinople and laughed on the threats earlier than him. He declared his freedom from worry at something this world might dish out. In so doing he declared and illustrates the triumph of the cross. I shut along with his phrases. Hearken to a person who has been let out and skilled the Triumph of the Cross:

What are we to worry? Loss of life? Life to me means Christ, and dying is acquire. Exile? ‘The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of products? We introduced nothing into this world, and we will certainly take nothing from it. I’ve solely contempt for the world’s threats, I discover its blessings laughable. I’ve no worry of poverty, no need for wealth. I’m not afraid of dying nor do I lengthy to stay, besides on your good….I urge you, my mates, to believe…. (ante exsilium n. 1: PG 52, 427)

This publish first appeared on Community in Mission and is reprinted right here with permission.

Picture courtesy of Unsplash.



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