By Father Casey

We are entering once more upon the holiest of weeks. It is our honor and duty as Christians to return to Jerusalem in mind and heart to walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus. I hope you will be able to journey the whole way and will allow yourself time to pause on each holy stone in the path to Calvary. For everything in the story of Jesus Christ builds toward and culminates in the Passion. Christ crucified and raised is ever and always the fullness of the Gospel.

This Sunday, and throughout the week, our eyes will be turned directly at the cross. For most Episcopalians, this is not a common direction for our gaze, as we tend to spend more time and imagination on the hillsides where Jesus taught than on the hillside where he died. But we must go to Golgotha with him, for it was always his destination. He did not intend merely to preach the Sermon on the Mount, but to live it, and love of God, love of neighbor, and love of enemy find their fullest expression in the self-emptying sacrifice of the cross. It is in his arms stretched wide that we can finally see the extent of his yearning to draw the whole world to God.

Among our sisters and brothers in Christ, there is a propensity to condense the meaning of this week into a simple theory of atonement. But reducing the cross to a single meaning is an enormous mistake, for it shields the cross from touching every area of our life. Everything that can be known about God is, in some way, present at the cross.

It’s the pinnacle of divine self-disclosure
The eternal moment of forgiveness
Divine solidarity with human suffering
The enduring model of discipleship
The supreme demonstration of divine love
The beauty that saves the world
The overthrow of Satan
The shaming of the principalities and powers
The unmasking of mob violence
The condemnation of state killing
The rebuke of warfare and weapons
The sacrifice to end sacrifices
The death by which death is conquered
The lever that pries open the gates of eternity
The tree of life recovered.[1]

And so much more, for the meaning of the cross is not singular, but kaleidoscopic. The word kaleidoscope is a Greek word that means “beautiful form,” which is the perfect way of describing the cross. As we gaze up at it, and peer through not only the cruciform shape but also the crucified life, we witness the very mystery of God.

So come with your church family this week, and witness this mystery, this revelation, this love supreme.

Father Casey+


[1] I am indebted to Brian Zahnd in his gorgeous book on the cross, The Wood Between the Worlds, for this poetic articulation of the many meanings of the crucifixion.

Photo courtesy of Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. 2014

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