Why turn to the crucifix?
Because the crucifix is a sign of victory and hope. It holds the fact that our lives will hold suffering and pain and sin and the effects of sin. We look at the crucifix, at Jesus on the cross, and we remember that Jesus understands our suffering and what we are going through. Jesus dealt with pain due to the effects of sin and evil in our world.
On Good Friday, we remember the darkness and despair that the disciples felt when the long-promised Savior was gone and not only gone, but taken from them. Good Friday reminds us that our actions have consequences. Our sinfulness and inability to see the Messiah in our lives has consequences.
The crucifixion, however, is not the end of the story. Jesus Christ rose. Good Friday reminds us of God’s power and ability to transform the darkest of hours and the darkest of situations and the moments of utter despair. We remember on Good Friday what happened to Jesus and what he did for us and how God sacrificed his Son for us. However, we celebrate and believe and know that death is not the end of the story.
God overcame death. Christ rose from the dead so that we might fully know and understand that he was our Savior, our light, our hope, our way, our truth, and our life. Jesus revealed and showed us his Father. Jesus revealed to us God’s ability to heal, to love, to show mercy, and to walk with us in our suffering. The Resurrection shows us that evil does not win. God, in his infinite power and ability to transform anything, wins.
And don’t we need that? Don’t we need mercy and love and hope and a promise of an abiding presence in our lives? That is why we need the crucifix. That is why we need Good Friday. To remember that Jesus’ suffering is our suffering. To remember what Jesus did on our behalf. To remember that Jesus was able to overcome death so that we might have eternal life, eternal hope, and eternal belief that we are not alone, even in our darkest hours.
Today, many of us will go to church and venerate the cross. Let us remember the words of Pope Benedict XVI when he said the only sign we need “is Jesus raised on the Cross: Jesus who died and rose is the absolutely sufficient sign. Through him we can understand the truth about life and obtain salvation.” (Homily on March 26, 2006). Through this sign, we know the way to our salvation.