The Transforming Power of the Cross
JESUS today predicts His Passion, Death and Resurrection and foretells that the Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected, be put to death and then after three days rise again (Mark 8:27-35). Through these historical events which happened two thousand years ago, Christ has redeemed us. JESUS suffered and died so that all those who belong to Him could live for ever. By our sins we deserve only eternal death, but by His becoming man and dying on the Cross, JESUS Who is true God and true man expiated all of our sins and merited redemption and eternal life for us. These events happened only once in the history of mankind, but Our Lord having acquired these merits for us, needed them to be applied throughout history and to us now in 2021. So how does He do this?
The merits Christ won on Calvary to save us or to redeem us are applied to us principally through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Remember that the Mass is the making present on the altar here and now, in our day and in our time, that same sacrifice which Christ offered once to the Father on Mount Calvary two thousand years ago. As we have said the merits of Christ have to be applied to all human beings in all times and in all places – men, women and children of all nationalities and races, rich and poor alike. So when we participate in Mass devoutly, those merits are applied to our souls to heal us of the wounds of sin.
Our Lord also tells us in today’s Gospel that, “If anyone wishes to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” We can do this by uniting our trials and sufferings, our pains, annoyances and inconveniences with His sufferings. Although suffering was not part of God’s original plan for humanity, it is the reality we live in due to Original Sin. But our sufferings, whether they be big or small, through Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection can be transformed into something of great value. He has given suffering new meaning, and because we are baptised, by uniting our sufferings with His sufferings we acquire merit which in the next life will be transformed into glory. This is the great revolution of Christianity, that our sufferings and pains can be transformed into something great by uniting them to the sufferings of Christ. And we can offer all these things to God particularly at the Offertory of the Mass. As the priest offers the host to God the Father on the paten, at the same time offer your own crosses and trials. Then at the Consecration, as the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of JESUS, He will offer them all in union with His own sufferings to the Father in atonement for our sins, and they will be transformed into something beyond price.
Our Lady was the greatest exemplar of this. On Wednesday we celebrate the memoria of Our Lady of Sorrows. As she stood at the foot of the Cross she shared in His sufferings and united them with her own and presented them to the Father. Let us ask her to teach us to do the same.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC