Lift The Cross of Jesus Higher

2024년 3월 17일

Lift The Cross of Jesus Higher

< Fifth Sunday of Lent >

 In 1987, with permission from the bishop of Albany, N.Y., Sr. Luise Principe started a secular institute for men and women called “Franciscan Missioners of Jesus Crucified.” They seek to connect the suffering of Jesus with the suffering of the world through their own suffering. You see, almost all the members of this group have visible handicaps, including Sr. Luise, who has been confined to a wheelchair for most of her life due to multiple sclerosis. This group literally takes their mission from the crucifixion of Jesus. “Jesus did his greatest work,” she explains, “when he could move neither his hands nor his feet.” So rather than seeing their handicap as an excuse to do nothing, this group of dedicated missionaries sees their handicap as a validation of their calling to raise up the cross of Christ that others may be drawn to Jesus to discover their sufferings in his and his sufferings in theirs.

In today’s gospel from John 12:20-33 Jesus tries to prepare his disciples for the coming catastrophe of his arrest and crucifixion. He likens his death to a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying so that it can produce much fruit. But he goes on to say that the manner of his death—crucifixion—instead of repelling people, would in fact draw all people to himself. How is that possible? Consider how humiliating, shameful, horrifying, not to mention tortuously painful crucifixion is. Its purpose was more than to punish anyone who challenges Roman rule, it was to serve as a warning that the same fate awaits others who dared to oppose Rome. That’s why it was public. But Jesus turns this intimidating means of torture on its head. Rather that repulse people, his cross would actually draw all people to himself. Why? Because when people look at the crucifix and consider this dejected, abandoned and betrayed criminal is the Son of God, they will recognize their own human condition in his, like Sr. Louise and her community does, for they too can move neither their hands and feet. So we surrender to God our faults, failures, our wounds and weaknesses and ask God to use these to spread the gospel to everyone looking for meaning and purpose in life.