The Cross and Beyond: A Reflection on The Meaning of Lent-Easter

The cross and the Resurrection are the final victory

For Christians, the Cross is a symbol of victory. Jesus suspended on the cross reveals the depth of God’s love for us, a love so great that Jesus was willing to bear the terrible cost of suffering and death in order to reconcile us to the Father, and to redeem us from our greatest enemies, sin and death. The empty cross reminds us that Jesus has conquered sin and death. In his cross and Resurrection, we have reason for our faith, our hope, and our love.

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Jesus brought heaven, the face and nature of God, down to earth and made it known to us in the flesh. Jesus is truly the one who John tells us in the opening of his Gospel, is the Word that was with God and was God, through whom all things came to be, and without whom nothing could come to be. “He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (John 1:1-3,10-11).

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Those last words reveal the cause and the consequence that will come to fruition for us again as we celebrate this coming Holy Week of Lent. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the last week of Lent in which we remember the final events of the great, divine, and cosmic drama and mystery of our salvation. On Palm Sunday, we will once again see Jesus welcomed like a king by the people of Jerusalem, and we will again recall that the joy of Palm Sunday will last only a moment and we will witness again how the people turn against him with irrational anger and with ultimate violence, shouting, “Crucify him!” (Jn 18:40).

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During this Holy Week, we will witness again the events of the last three days of Jesus life on earth, from the Last Supper discourse that we celebrate on Maundy/Holy Thursday, to the events of Good Friday: Jesus’ arrest, his scourging at the pillar, and being crowned with thorns, to his painful carrying of the cross up the hill of Golgotha, to his being nailed to the cross and his death. In these events we are challenged to look directly at the terrible cost of love that Jesus willingly paid for our salvation. And we will honor this love with our humble tears.

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But the story was not over. The Word Lives! On Easter Sunday, our tears turn to shouts of joy, for the living Word that was from the beginning, the incarnate God made flesh, whose love was, is, and always will be so grand, so great, so beyond our comprehension, could not be silenced. Jesus, through the power of God, arose from the dead. The cross and the Resurrection are the final victory over the “ruler of this world.” In these events the enslaving powers of sin and death were conquered, once and for all, forever. This is the reason for our faith, our hope, and our love. Let us remember God’s love by honoring his commandment to love one another as he has loved us (Jn 13:34).

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