Fr. Kirk Reynolds, S.J.
Someone once described Jesus’ life and ministry in these terms:
“It starts with one who empties himself of all divinity (see Philippians 2:6-7), comes as a homeless baby in a poor family, then a refugee in a foreign country, then an invisible carpenter in his own country which is colonized and occupied by an imperial power, ending as a “criminal,” accused and tortured by heads of both systems of power, temple and empire, abandoned by most of his inner circle, subjected to the death penalty by a most humiliating and bizarre public ritual, and finally buried quickly in an unmarked grave.”
From a non-believer’s perspective this would certainly qualify as the ‘portrait’ of a LOSER, no?
And yet, the manner of Jesus’ death is the focus of today’s feast day of the EXALTATION (formerly TRIUMPH) OF THE CROSS. And the focus, for that matter, of our entire faith.
To all appearances the Cross is the occasion of a brutally violent death and the defeat and destruction of this man’s life and everything he lived and stood for.
In all reality it was the occasion of His complete victory over evil and death. Because He was “lifted up” on both the Cross and then from His tomb in the Resurrection, He is the source of eternal life for all humankind.
The Cross symbolizes and summarizes the PARADOX that is our faith, that is Christianity:
Life overcomes death; power overcomes total weakness and “defeat”; trust overcomes fear; selfless love overcomes hatred and selfishness; good overcomes evil; Jesus’ return to glory takes him through Calvary.
In the ‘divine economy’, THIS is what ‘winning’ and victory look like.
Appearances can be deceiving.