DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     March 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 61


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today, he examines the fact that so many display the cross but refuse to place the Victim on it as is necessary with the Crucifix. They call upon the cross without calling on the Victim - Jesus Christ. They thank the cross which, in effect, is like thanking the scalpels for a successful operation by the doctors. The cross is merely an instrument on which the Victim was sacrificed. It is the Victim - the Son of God Who we must remember and thank, not the wood itself.

It's what's ON the Cross that counts!

      You've just recovered from major, life saving surgery. Do you thank the scalpel? A policeman has just stopped a person from mugging you, do you thank his uniform or gun? A fireman saves your home from fire, do you thank his water hose?

      Imagine, if you will, the married couple in Cana thanking the water jugs for making wine, or the blind man thanking the mud for giving his sight back. But many of us are about to do that very soon.

      On Good Friday, we shall come together to give praise, honor, and thanksgiving to God for giving us the ultimate sacrifice for our redemption. A triangular shaped object will be brought out, covered in a purple cloth. The priest will intone: "Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the world." (or words to that affect) To which we will respond, "Come let us adore Him." (ibid)

      As the cloth comes off, many will see a cross, but no Christ. As though it was the cross that saved us and not Christ.

      The 'cross' was host to many people. The slave rebel Spartacus, the unrepentant thief, and the good thief (and probably millions before and after Christ). What makes the cross the path of salvation is that Christ hung on it? "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6).

      "A company of evildoers encircle Me; they have pierced My hands and feet-- I can count all My bones-- they stare and gloat over Me; they divide My garments among them, and for My raiment they cast lots" (Psalm 22:16-17).

      "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:14-16).

      "...this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:28)

      The story is told that when St. Francis of Assisi was brought before the Sultan, the Sultan had a carpet of crosses laid before him so the man of God would not approach him. As St. Francis was led in, he calmly walked to the Sultan. "How can you walk on the cross of your God?" "That isn't the cross of my Lord," replied St. Francis, "but that of the unrepentant thief."

      It is Christ ON the cross, the crucifix, which is, and should be, our focus of adoration and love. To paraphrase 'Look at the expression of true and total love. See how His arms are open to embrace you, His face bowed to kiss you, His side opened to show you His heart.'

      The cross was nothing more than an instrument of execution, much like the electric chair or the headsman axe. It was Christ ON the cross that transformed it into an 'instrument' of hope, love, and redemption.

    Pax Christi, Pat

March 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 61


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