Tag Archives: The Cross

We tower enormous.

EARTH

What made us think
it was yours? Because it was signed
With your blood, God of battles?
It is such a small thing,
Easily overlooked in the multitude
Of the worlds. We are misled
By perspective; the microscope
Is our sin, we tower enormous
Above it the stronger it
Grows. Where have your incarnations
Gone to? the flesh is too heavy
To wear you, God of light
And fire. The machine replaces
The hand that fastened you
To the cross, but cannot absolve us.

R.S. Thomas

 

A signpost for free travelers.

The cross, though it has at its head a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape.  Because it has a paradox in its center it can grow without changing.  The circle returns upon itself and is bound.  The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travelers.

—G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy (1908)

(I took this picture at the Afghan Church in Mumbai, India.)

Am I a stone and not a sheep?

GOOD FRIDAY

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

-Christina Rossetti

Here it thickens to the limit.

“…what transformed the cross and eternally transforms the cross into victory if not the love of Christ, the same divine love that, as the very essence and glory of the kingdom of God, Christ manifested and granted at the last supper? And where, if not at the last supper, do we find the consummation of the full, complete self-sacrifice of this love, which in ‘this world’ made the cross — betrayal, crucifixion, suffering and death — unavoidable?

“The gospels and the church services, particularly the wonderfully profound services of passion week, witness precisely to this link between the last supper and the cross, to their connection as the manifestation and victory of the kingdom of God. In these services, the last supper is always referred to that night that surrounds it on all sides and in which particularly shines the light of the festival of love that Christ accomplished with his disciples in the ‘large upper room, furnished,’ as if prepared in advance from all ages.

“This was the night of sin, night as the very essence of ‘this world.’ And here it thickens to the limit, it prepares to devour the last light shining in it. Already the ‘princes of the people are assembled together against the Lord and his Christ.’ Already the thirty silver pieces  — the price of betrayal — are paid. Already the crowd, incited by their leaders, armed with swords and spears, are heading out on the road leading to the garden of Gethsemane.

“But — and this is infinitely important for the Church’s understanding of the cross — the last supper itself took place under the shadow of this darkness. Christ knew ‘the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table’ (Luke 22:21). And it was precisely from the last supper, from its light, that Judas, after taking the morsel (John 13:27) went out into that dreadful night, and soon after him, Christ.

“And if in the services of Holy Thursday, the day of the express commemoration of the last supper, joy is all the time interlaced with sadness, if the Church again and again recalls not only the light but also the darkness overshadowing it, it is because, in the double exits of Judas and Christ from that light into that darkness, she sees and knows the beginning of the cross as the mystery of sin and the mystery of victory over it.”

-Father Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist