Sometime in my long journey to the Catholic Faith I began to think about the significance of the crucifix. As an evangelical Protestant I had always detested a crucifix. I believed it showed Jesus as still crucified whereas He is risen from the dead. Instead I favored an empty cross. But somewhere along the line I began to rethink the whole issue. Yes, Jesus is risen. But does that mean we cannot portray Him as crucified?
A lot of people were crucified. But only Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. Paul says it was at the moment of His death when our Lord made a public spectacle of demon powers, routing all the forces of darkness (see Col. 2:15). That started me thinking. But then the more I pondered the crucifix, the more I discovered that all the essentials of the Faith are right there.
In the crucifix we see the love of God poured out for us. We also see the gravity of sin. We are sobered by the fact that the wages of sin is death. We learn about suffering and sacrifice. All of this and so much more are contained in the crucifix. The more we meditate upon it, the more we learn about the Faith.
Perhaps most important of all for me is that by meditating on the crucifix I see how it is that I am to imitate Christ, my Lord. I see laid before me the road of suffering and sacrifice. I understand that I am called to the patient endurance of whatever trials and temptations befall me. I see that I must give myself for others. I realize that I must humble myself to such obedience that, yes, I do become a doormat for others, and I am thankful to be so.
When does a servant stop serving? Where does he draw the line and say thus far and no further? Our Lord knew nothing of the kind. Is this too radical? Is it over the edge? No, I don't think so. It's just that so many of our modern notions (read traditions) get in the way of truly dealing with who Jesus is, what He did, and what He calls us to do in response.
The crucifix teaches us differently. We obediently follow our heavenly Father all the way to a cross, and to death. By living crucified we become heirs of the resurrection life our Lord died to give us.
This time of Lent is probably the most appropriate season to give these things consideration. Like Paul I must confess that I have not attained to this goal. But I press on in order that I may apprehend the One who has apprehended me and that laying my life down, I may find it again in the end.