There is No Christianity Without the Cross

Christopher Hale writes:

Good Friday offers this simple answer: Admit something is wrong. When we end the carnival dance and remove our masks, we will see the truth. Something is not right in ourselves, in our nation and in the world. When we open our eyes, we will perhaps even see that evil and sin are real, and are staining every part of us and the world we live in. Then with the Psalmist, we too can cry out: “Forgive us, Lord, for we have sinned!”

The cross of Good Friday doesn’t just stand as a distant critic, though. It communicates to us who God is and who God certainly isn’t. In Jesus, God enters into the fullness of human misery. In the story of Good Friday, we see all of human brokenness on display: greed, violence, hatred, injustice, disloyalty. But we also see that Jesus redeems all of it. He goes all the way down to bring all of us up. No one is left behind.

This is the compelling story of Christianity. It isn’t simply a banners-and-balloons tradition with state slogans and empty rhetoric. It’s a tradition that prompted Christian humanitarian groups to enter places like Somaliland without every answer, but with a passion and a competence to make life a little more just and a little less cold. Christianity isn’t spa therapy that helps us reduce our stress. It’s a human encounter with a human person who endured temptation, suffering, sin and death on the cross to redeem the entire human race.

It’s pretty clear: Easter without the cross is superficial, just as the cross without the Easter is joyless. We need both. Today, the Church invites us to undertake the paschal mystery of Jesus, a journey that includes the cross. It’s an invitation to make Good Friday great again. The desert road is uncomfortable, but it isn’t sterile. With Jesus, we can change and be transformed. And with his cross, our Easter joy can be complete.