Discover more from Missio Dei
The Sweetness of the Cross
February 18th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
For the past several days, the Church has given us reminders of the Cross in our Gospel readings, and today is no exception. Today’s Gospel tells of Christ’s Transfiguration, when He revealed His divinity to Peter, James, and John. After the Transfiguration, Jesus told His disciples that the prophecy concerning Elijah had already come true: the prophecy referred to St. John the Baptist, who heralded Christ’s coming before being imprisoned and ultimately executed. Jesus told His disciples that He too “must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt.”
This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, and the Church is preparing us for the holy season of Lent through these Gospel passages. The three weeks preceding Ash Wednesday comprise the season of Septuagesima, which is essentially a pre-Lent. Eastern Catholics and many Roman Catholics use this time to prepare for the penitential season, a beautiful habit that prevents our being caught unawares when Ash Wednesday is suddenly upon us.
We still have four days before Lent begins, and the Church gives us this poignant reminder of Our Lord’s sufferings as we prepare to suffer with Him. The glory of Easter Sunday is coming, but first we must walk alongside Our Lord on the path to Calvary for forty days, hopefully growing closer Him through increased prayer, fasting, and works of charity.
There is a beautiful hymn that is often chanted on Good Friday, called “Crux Fidelis” (which translates to “Faithful Cross”). It is an old Gallican — or Frankish — chant, having been written in the sixth century in the area that is modern-day France. The hymn praises the Cross as the “[s]weetest wood and sweetest nails, / Sustaining the sweetest weight.”
Sweet is rarely the word we would use to describe our crosses, yet when we unite them with the Cross of Christ, they become a “sweet odour to the Lord” (Lev 17:6b DRB). Suffering is unavoidable in a fallen world, but in Christ, our suffering takes on new meaning as we participate in the redemption of the world. We do this by offering our sufferings to Him in reparation for our own sins, for the conversion of sinners, and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
In these last few days leading up to Lent, may we pray for the grace and strength to willingly and even joyously accept our crosses, so that we may one day experience the eternal joy of union with God in Heaven.