“Behold, behold the Wood of the Cross, on which is hung our salvation.” – Good Friday Liturgy
It is, to me, a sign of providence that the Church came to commemorate Jesus’s birth on December 25th. Because the Church placed the feast of the Annunciation exactly 9 months before Christmas on March 25th, we always celebrate this feast in Lent, or within the Octave of Easter. Since we are in the midst of the Triduum, this feast will not be celebrated in the Church’s liturgy this year, but it lies beneath...the Incarnation and Resurrection refusing to be silent for long.
This Lent, I have prayed for friends who have lost loved ones: a sibling, grandparents. I have congratulated friends and given thanks for healing, for the births and conceptions of children and for birthdays that friends and families have celebrated. Even this weekend I will celebrate the wedding of a dear friend, snuck in between the Veneration of the Cross and the Great Vigil. I have struggled for solemnity on a Lenten Friday when my son rushes up, lightsabers in hand, to battle the forces of evil (narrowly missing the dog). Tumbled in this mix of cross and empty tomb, pain and joy, my prayer is not to rush too quickly to the disciples’ revelation in Emmaus, which is so much more inviting than the lonely cross.
I pray that I will be able to join with the disciples in their confusion and disillusionment and learn from it. I pray that I will be able to be with the Twelve in their fatigue, fear, and even their shame from the Garden to Golgotha. I know that what I want is their joy at recognizing Jesus, their courage to burst out of the upper room at Pentecost. I don’t want to sit with my own doubts and fears, my failings and self-judgment at the foot of the cross. I want Easter Sunday, I want Christmas Morning, I want beautiful Magnificats. I want the moments of quiet satisfaction with my wife that I imagine Mary and Joseph had, maybe on the way home from Egypt, or from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Instead, today I’m asked to befriend Jesus’ cross.
As I walk forward to venerate the cross this afternoon, I hope to let God sit with me in the midst of the things I’d rather not think about: the uncertainties of life, the possibility of loss, and the challenge of vulnerability. I hope that by doing this, I can experience the Cross as Jesus’ yoke, which Jesus promises, when born alongside him, becomes easy and light...but the lesson isn’t learned without the bearing.
How does Jesus speak to you at the cross? What part of the cross scares you?