Today’s reflection will be based on the 2nd Reading. I would like to focus on 2 words from the Reading: wisdom and power.
The 1st word is “wisdom”. This Letter to the Corinthians contrasts human wisdom with God’s wisdom.
From humanity’s perspective, wisdom is usually associated with external values such as wealth, pleasure and honor. On the other hand, the wisdom of God is summarized by 1 object in this church: the Cross. As St. Paul says, “We proclaim Christ crucified”.
On the Cross, Jesus willingly surrenders to the opposite of the 3 attachments that the world holds dear. On the Cross, Christ is detached from wealth and material riches. He is stripped even of his clothing and dies in utter poverty. On the Cross, Christ is detached from pleasure. The Cross is an instrument of pain and torture. On the Cross, Christ is detached from honor. He is not in a position of fame and prestige. He is treated as the lowliest of criminals.
Since the Cross has nothing to do with wealth, pleasure or honor, it gives a totally unacceptable message to the world. How is it possible for someone who was executed in such a horrible manner to be worshipped as Saviour? To the world, the Cross is the symbol of foolishness and nonsense.
However, as people of faith, we see beyond the apparent meaninglessness of the Cross. Rather, the Cross has meaning for our lives for 1 important reason. The Cross speaks of perfect love that has no bounds. God’s love is unconditional, unending and unchanging.
On the Cross, Christ emptied himself for us. He gave us everything; he held nothing back – including his very life. That’s how much value and worth and dignity we have in God’s eyes. That’s how devoted God is to us.
Although, at first glance, the Cross seems to be a symbol of uselessness and absurdity, the reality for those who eyes of faith is that the Cross speaks eloquently about the wisdom of God. The Cross is wise because Christ’s death on the Cross reveals more clearly than anything else the depths of God’s love.
So, what does all this mean for us in 2021 in Sudbury? Think of the person who loves you the most. (parent, spouse, child, relative, family member, friend, etc.) No person on this earth – not even the person you just called to mind – can ever love us more than or better than Jesus. Having shed his blood for us, there are no improvements to be made in the way God loves each of us at this moment in our lives.
What this implies is that God loves us so much that he is involved in our lives now. He never abandons us. The opposite is true: He walks with us to strengthen us. God is always there to support us with his presence, his care and his divine assistance.
When we wish that things were different, when things happen to us that we don’t like or don’t want, when things happen that we didn’t ask for, such a God is ever with us and fills us with his comfort and courage.
Regardless of health challenges, emotional and psychological challenges, relationship issues, financial concerns – whatever – God is at our side; he is in our corner. God stands by us, especially when troubles come. What a blessing this is!
In his weekly audience this past Wednesday, Pope Francis made these remarks: “It is Jesus who reveals God’s heart. Do not forget these 3 words that are God’s style: closeness, compassion and tenderness.” With these words, Pope Francis is providing an excellent summary of the wise message that the Cross proclaims.
The 2nd word is “power”. The 2nd Reading also contrasts human power with God’s power.
According to the world, power is all about force, authority and influence. On the other hand, the power of God is summarized by 1 object in this church: The Cross: “We proclaim Christ crucified”.
On the Cross, Jesus willingly surrenders to the opposite of the values that the world holds dear with respect to power. On the Cross, Christ is detached from power. For the Son of God to die on the Cross is an expression of total weakness, humility and vulnerability.
Since the Cross has nothing to do with force, authority and influence, it gives a totally unacceptable message to the world. However, as people of faith, we see beyond the apparent powerlessness of the Cross.
In fact, the Cross is the symbol of perfect power for 2 reasons. First, the Cross rescues us from death. How does that happen? As we know and as today’s Gospel proclaims, the Crucifixion led to the Resurrection. Having died for us, Jesus’ love is so great that he shares his victory and triumph over death with us. Christ is alive right now and forever. The tomb was not the end of Jesus’ story; it also is not the end of our story. Our destiny is to live forever in the presence of this loving God.
Second, the Cross rescues us from sin. How does that happen? Scripture tells us that death enters the world as a result of sin. Sin causes death. By conquering the consequence, Jesus also conquers the cause. By defeating death, Christ also triumphs over sin and destroys all evil. What Jesus has done becomes ours. Jesus’ victory over sin is our victory over sin.
As sinners, we stood condemned before God. Jesus, who was sinless, stood in our place. The Lord sacrifices himself for us on the Cross; he washes away our sins in his own blood. The break in the relationship with God caused by sin is now restored.
Although, at first glance, the Cross seems to be a symbol of failure and defeat, the reality for those who eyes of faith is that the Cross speaks eloquently about the power of God. The Cross is powerful because it proves that Christ is stronger than sin, evil and death.
So, what does all this mean for us in 2021 in Sudbury? Yes, we are all sinners, but the sinful human condition does not have to possess us. Our sins do not have to enslave us because Jesus has purchased us for himself with his own blood. With God’s help, our hearts can be free from the powers that belong to darkness. Rather than being overcome by evil, we have such great potential to overcome evil by doing good. Jesus frees us from sin and death; he saves us from sin and death. That’s the reason we call Jesus “Saviour”.
The ultimate purpose of the Cross is to give us encouragement, consolation and hope. Therefore, regardless of what life brings, even as we journey through a deadly pandemic, we can be confident and unafraid.
“We proclaim Christ crucified”. As our Eucharist continues, let us ask God to help us to fix these words deep within our hearts so that we may experience the effects of both the wisdom and power of the Cross in our lives.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
March 6 – 7, 2021