Allow us to break free

Jesus teaches the way of poverty, and he lived it. He says clearly that we must renounce all of our possessions. But he goes further and says that we must even renounce our relationships and our very selves as well. Why? Probably because we have done these things so poorly in the past, and these unhealthy patterns have become so ingrained that only complete renunciation will allow us to break free. Jesus on the cross is the ultimate example of poverty. It was there that he gave up not only possessions and relationships but also his very life. He not only taught the way of the cross, the way of poverty, but he actually became that way.

God’s love continues

The Incarnation then for (St.) Francis becomes the first moment of experiencing the greatest love possible and becomes the one single and most important event in all human history. God is physically with us as one of us, able to touch and be touched and showing us our salvation. God’s love continues without condition all the way to the cross, where not even life is more precious than the continued outpouring of unconditional love which does not fade in the face of diversity.

~ Bob Fitzsimmons, OFS, “St. Francis and His Approach to Divinity” (FUN Manual)

But in the silence of our own hearts, if we’re honest…

Of course, unless we understand our own sinfulness, unless we understand the urgency of repentance and reconciliation, the Cross makes no sense; the Resurrection makes no sense. Easter joy is the joy of deliverance and new life. If we don’t believe in our bones that we really do desperately need these things, Easter is just another excuse for a holiday sale; and the Sacrament of Penance, and our fasting and almsgiving, are a waste of time.

But in the silence of our own hearts, if we’re honest, we know we hunger for something more than our own selfishness and mistakes. We were made for glory, and we’re empty of that glory until God fills us with his presence. All things are made new in the victory of Jesus Christ – even sinners like you and me. The blood of the Cross washes away death. It purifies us as vessels for God’s new life. The Resurrection fills us with God’s own life.

~ Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, “Three simple questions on the threshold of Lent – Catholic Philly”

Not through his success.

There is beauty and strength in vulnerability. From the cross, Jesus, the most perfect example of love, shows us how beautiful vulnerability can be. At the moment when Jesus was most vulnerable, when he was alone, beaten, stripped of everything, and hanging on a cross, he revealed the incredible strength of his love. If Jesus had been seeking success, he could have easily risen to power as king and forced the will of God upon people. Instead, he consistently chose vulnerability. We see it in his crucifixion, and we see it when our mighty God comes to be with us in the form of simple bread and wine in the Eucharist. Jesus freely chose to share in our daily human suffering, and in doing so he became united with us through his vulnerability—not through his success.

~ Claire McGrath, Redefining Sucess: The Beauty in Vulnerability | Catholic How

And that always involves the cross

Real faith – the kind our Holy Father calls us to – demands a keen awareness of our failures as Christians and a spirit of repentance. It requires us to seek out who Jesus Christ really is, and what he asks from each of us as disciples. And that always involves the cross.

~ Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

So tender in the manger, so sorrowful on the cross

There is, then, a Franciscan doctrine in accordance with which God is holy, is great, and above all, is good, indeed the supreme Good. For in this doctrine, God is love. He lives by love, creates for love, becomes flesh and redeems, that is, he saves and makes holy, for love. There is also a Franciscan way of contemplating Jesus: the meeting of uncreated Love with created love. Similarly, there is a method of loving Him and of imitating Him: in reality it sees the Man-God, and prefers to consider Him in His holy Humanity, because this reveals Him more clearly and, as it were, allows Him to be touched. From this arises a burning devotion to the Incarnation and the Passion of Jesus, because these (mysteries) allow us to see Him, not so much in His glory, in His omnipotent grandeur, or in His eternal triumph, as rather in His human love – so tender in the manger, so sorrowful on the cross.

~ Pope Pius XII,  1956

When we begin to seek out the crosses of others

We already know some crosses: a parent stricken with cancer, a brother in trouble with the law, a spouse who loses a job. These are the crosses that we can expect. The truly revolutionary moment in our Christian lives, however, comes when we begin to seek out the Crosses of others: to search to enter into the messiness of the lives of people we don’t take care of because of family ties or the loyalty of friendship. Christian greatness is when we find the thieves who hang in public and decide to hang with them: when we get put up on the cross for all to mock, that is the time we ought to have the courage to hang there with them and call out to Jesus, “Remember us, when you come into your kingdom.”

~ Matt Janeczko, New Sandals: “Of Kings and Jesus”

Failing most of the time

One of the things Christ must have learned in the thirty yeas before his public ministry is that no amount of discussion or reasoning will convert the human heart. If you hunger and thirst for goodness, beauty, truth, you will fall upon the Gospels weeping with joy; if you don’t, you will steadfastly, insanely deny them, or worse, try to twist them to support your own ends, insisting that Love thine enemies means to kill them, and that Blessed are the poor means blessed are the prosperous. So again we return to the scandal of the Cross. Of praying in secret, of hungering and thirsting for justice, of quietly and mostly hiddenly consenting to the ongoing Crucifixion of trying to live out our smallest moments in love. Failing most of the time, of course, but still…

~ Heather King, Jesus Said So Little….