I find it amusing if it were not a disturbing and sad story. While Christ was already predicting his passion, death and resurrection, all that his apostles did was to discuss who among them was the greatest. (cfr. 9,30-37) This, to me, is the example par excellence of what is termed as impertinence.
That’s when Christ told them to be as humble as a little child. “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
Of course, receiving a child in Christ’s name means receiving Christ and everything that he has done for the salvation of man, and this would include suffering and loving the cross. The cross is necessary in our life. It plays a big role in clarifying our true condition in our earthly life which is marked by sinfulness and thus, in great need of redemption.
We need to know the purpose of the cross because the cross, through Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, is where everything in our life is resolved. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection is the culmination of Christ’s redemptive mission on earth.
Yes, Christ preached. He performed miracles. But in the end, he had to offer his life on the cross because no matter what he did, our sins are such that they simply cannot be undone and forgiven through the preaching of the truths of our faith and the tremendous effects of the miracles. Christ has to offer his life on the cross!
We might ask, if Christ is God, why did he have to go through all that suffering and death? Why not just say, “Everything is now all right, guys.” As God, nothing is impossible with him. With the movement of his will, with a flick of his hand, everything would be as it should be.
I must say, it is a good question to ask. Indeed, nothing is impossible with God. He does not have to do anything spectacular to repair what was damaged. A word from him, and everything would be as he wants it to be.
Be that as it may, the fact is that Christ chose the way the Father wanted it. “Not my will, but yours be done,” Christ said. (Lk 22,42) And I imagine the reason behind this is because God respects our human nature as it is, as it has been created by him, capable of loving and hating, and also capable of being faithful and unfaithful and faithful again after some conversion, and some consequences follow.
The return to fidelity, given our nature, will unavoidably involve suffering and death which Christ took to himself, showing us the way of how to go about these consequences of our sins.
In other words, the cross and all the suffering it involves are the consequences of our sins which need to be forgiven and undone. And that can only happen when with Christ, we go through the consequences of our sin by suffering them with Christ on the cross. Thus the cross of our sins has been converted by Christ into the cross of our salvation. That’s how we have to understand the cross and all the suffering it involves.
We should not be afraid of the cross. In fact, we should be looking forward to have it if only to help in Christ’s continuing work of our redemption.*