The Cross

When you see a cross what is your reaction? What comes into your mind and your heart when you see it? Often when I am driving down a road, I will see it planted alongside the road to memorialize those who died in a vehicle accident. The Cross is a sign of hope for life after death. The Cross is a sign of mercy. It is a sign of salvation. It is a sign of healing love through suffering. The Cross is a sign of the defeat of evil. Even for those who are reluctant at first to join in the fight against evil. The only prophet who Jesus directly identified with was Jonah. “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” (Mt 12:39-40) Jonah the prophet was called by God to call the city of Nineveh to repentance. A first, Jonah resisted God’s call and he tried to run away. During his flight from his divine mission, Jonah was cast over the side of a boat during a storm. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and spent three days in its belly. Jonah prayed from the belly of the fish, and the Lord heard Jonah and commanded the fish to vomit Jonah upon dry land. Jonah was offered a second chance to cooperate with God’s plan. He went to Nineveh and delivered the call to repentance and Nineveh repented. When Peter acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus said: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,…” (Mt 16:17-18a) Peter denied Jesus and ran away from the Cross, but he was drawn back to the Cross through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter willingly served as leader of the church on earth and died on a cross for her. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 10:38-39: Mk 8:35-35; Lk 9:24-25; Jn 12:24-25.) Salvation requires our discipleship.

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