The cross is a sign of suffering — Christ’s death on a cross. But Christ’s love is shown in His work of redemption accomplished principally by His passion, death, resurrection and ascension, whereby “dying He destroyed our death, rising He restored our life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1067; cf. 654).
The cross, thus, is the sign of triumph and victory, the sign of God, who is love itself.
We have always looked to the cross in times of suffering. On Sept. 14, we celebrate the feast of the Exultation of the Cross. It arrives as we hear of so many struggles in the nation and world. Hurricane Ida hit Aug. 29, knocking out power to all of New Orleans, blowing roofs off buildings and reversing the flow of the Mississippi River as it rushed from the Louisiana coast. Earlier in the month, an intense thunderstorm stalled over central Tennessee, dropping a record-setting 17 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. Flash floods destroyed homes, roads and other structures.
We also saw a magnitude 7.2 earthquake strike Haiti with a reported 2,000 killed and another 10,000 injured along with thousands of families left in need of shelter. Another humanitarian crisis arrived in Afghanistan as U.S. troops withdrew there. Wildfires have scorched the western United States.
The cross does not explain pain and misery. It does not provide easy answers. But it does help us to see our lives united with Christ’s life.
It’s easy to overlook the familiar, but the crosses and crucifixes placed in churches, homes and elsewhere are there for a reason. They’re a reminder to share in Christ’s plight and His gift to us. They’re also a reminder to become like Him. He gave us the blueprint in the Gospels.
The next time you see a cross or crucifix, stop and take a moment to reflect. And be grateful for that cross and what it represents.