“The crucifix does not signify defeat or failure. It reveals to us the love that overcomes evil and sin.” ~ Pope Francis
The worst thing that could be done to a person in the time of the Lord was to be crucified. Crucifixion was a brutal process that, if done right, would prolong suffering over a few to several days before the crucified finally succumbed to death. It was an agonizing process that generally ended in suffocation. The crucified person would have to keep pushing up on his feet so that he could gasp air because when the person was slumped down hanging by his arms, the airway would be closed up.
Crucifixion was seen as the ultimate torture and the ultimate failure. When a ruler wanted to make an example out of someone, that ruler would crucify the person. Crucifixion was a drawn out death sentence. It was a symbol of hate and it brought destruction to many.
One of the reasons Jesus was so controversial during his life on earth was that he constantly turned everything upside down. He instructed His followers to forgive rather than to hold something against another. He instructed His followers to love rather than to hate. He instructed His followers to feed the hungry even when it looked like they did not have enough food for themselves. He wanted people to move out from themselves and their own selfish concerns and embrace their brothers and sisters.
How perfect, then, it would be to turn a symbol of hatred and defeat into a symbol of love. As Jesus hung on the cross in extreme pain, He knew that His death was not going to result in eternal death. He knew that His death on the cross would be followed by resurrection and, in so doing, He would destroy death and restore life for His people.
When we look at a crucifix, we do not see a loser. We do not see defeat. When we look at a crucifix, we see life and love. Only through the cross do we find redemption. That is why Jesus told His followers that they would need to take up their crosses and follow Him.
We do not have to fear whatever comes our way. No matter the pain, no matter the ridicule, not matter the shame that awaits us, it has already been borne for us by Jesus. In the cross is our glory.
FAITH ACTION: Pray before the crucifix today and ask God to give you the grace that you need to rise above temptation and sin. If appropriate, plan on going to confession.