Mercy 16: Cross of Mercy
‘There is no other way except through the Burning Love of Christ Crucified.’ St. Bonaventure
I grew up in the shadow of the Cross. To paraphrase the words of John Paul ll: ‘It was the gate through which God unceasingly entered my life.’ The rather arid Episcopal Church in which I grew up had one thing going for it—a magnificent stained glass of the Cross, with Jesus the Good Shepherd at its center. That image never ceased to burn bright in my heart, a light unquenched by all my demonized wanderings!
My fondest childhood memories involved visiting the Franciscan missions planted in California during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Forging ‘El Camino Real’ with churches from San Diego to San Francisco, these mighty missionaries defied the odds to plant the Cross as the defining symbol of this new land. Whenever I am tempted to give California over to her gender anarchy, I simply visit Mission San Fernando or San Gabriel or Santa Barbara or San Juan Capistrano. The Cross still invites all to Mercy; California’s true inheritance remains intact.
What was so magnetic to me about the Cross? Perhaps it conveyed the surrender of God to reach us. Did Almighty God really subject Himself to such poverty in order to meet us in ours? That union of His strength, poured out in blood and water, with my shameful weakness never ceases to break me.
The Cross levels me, over and over. Whenever I am tempted to shake a fist at my disgusting self or at those who regard God with disgust, I witness that crimson flood. Love overcomes my judgment and reminds me that mercy alone transforms the haggard heart, beginning with my own.
I try to find time daily to bow before the huge, gentle crucifix at my church. There He invites me to cast down the stones hidden in my heart. I need that over and over. My heart quickly calcifies so I need to be reminded that He has given me one of flesh (EZ 37), one that can actually feel and act in harmony with His.
That rhythm is the way of the Cross: surrender, receiving mercy then rising up in new life to extend mercy. We need that rhythm more than ever. We live in an increasingly polarized age marked by brutal politics and deranged killers, wars and rumors of wars. Via the Internet, everyone and their dog becomes a shrill expert on everything. Amid the din of banging gongs, we need the Cross.
St. Edith Stein, a brilliant Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism and was killed by the Nazis, said: ‘The Cross is a living, real, and effective truth. It is buried in the soul like a seed that takes root there and grows.’
May the witness of the Cross root in us and establish its merciful rhythm in our depths.
‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.’ (2Cor. 8: 9)
Desert Stream/Living Waters: Mid-Atlantic: Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Tom Wright, Regional Coordinator. Please pray for greater unity and strength for our leaders in Virginia.
Restored Hope Network: Affiliate Ministries Needed: pray the Lord will provide connections with solid, Biblical ministries in the following areas: Seattle, WA; Idaho; Wyoming; Utah; Arizona; N Texas; Colorado; Nebraska; North & South Dakota; Iowa; Wisconsin, Louisiana; Mississippi; Alabama; Georgia; Indiana; west Virginia; Delaware; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Connecticut; Rhode Island; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; Vermont; Maine.
Courage: Please pray for the preservation of religious freedom in our nation.
Ministries of Pastoral Care: We ask for the unity of the Holy Spirit between all true Christian organizations and denominations, in Jesus name.