April 10, 2020 – Good Friday

“Being ready to be Crucified with our Blessed Lord and planting the crosses of our difficulties on the inner hill of our hearts in order to find peace, consolation and strength!”

(Based on Good Friday)

In Lithuania, near the small industrial city called Siauliai (shoo-lay) with a fascinating hill.

This hill is known as the “Hill of Crosses”…
… because it is adorned with literally hundreds of thousands of crosses.

(Estimates put around 100,000 crosses in 2006)

This city of Siauliai was founded in 1236

But soon after came under the captivity of a military order called the Teutonic Knights.

This was the time when the tradition of putting crosses on the hill began

Each cross was a prayer to God for freedom!

Over the next many centuries, the city was occupied by many other invading nations…

But, during all those difficult decades, a constant flow of pilgrims made their way to the “Hill of Crosses”…
… to pray and to plant more crosses!

The “Hill of Cross” is the great symbol…
… of the willingness to accept trials and trust in God!
… of the hope and expectation that prayers are always answered!
… of the readiness to face any adversity, knowing that the Lord cares!

Pope St John Paul II in his visit to the Hill of the Cross in 1992, remarked: “… the Hill of Crosses
… testifies to the nations of Europe and the whole world the faith of the people of this land!”

Today, on Good Friday, our eyes are focused on Jesus on the Cross…
… the symbol of our Faith.

Jesus, our Crucified Lord reminds the inevitability of the Cross in the life of a Christian…
… and the need to be persons who are responsive to this “Crucifying Challenge of Christianity!”

The “Cross” as a symbol of Christianity emerged by the second century…
… and by the time of Emperor Constantine, was firmly established as The Sign of Christian Faith!

Christianity sometimes is really strange, when compared to other ways of life…

While other ways of life propose actualizing oneself and finding salvation through one’s
own abilities
… Christianity suggests discovering the mystery of God with His Grace and gaining salvation
through Him alone!

While other ways of life propose casting away all pains and difficulties and living a
prosperous life
… Christianity suggests accepting sufferings and trials and detaching oneself from vain riches!

While other ways of life propose liberality and openness in identifying with the moral
trends of the modern world
… Christianity suggests swimming against wrong trends and enjoying the true love of all
children of God!

While other ways of life propose more comfortable and appealing techniques and signs
which can attract masses of people;
… Christianity suggests having the tough and the not-so-alluring Cross as a symbol which may even repel people!

Yeah, Christianity is strange…
… simply because it’s Founder was strange!

Jesus never demanded popularity.

He never suggested easy paths or compromised His convictions!

And Jesus did die in a strange way…on a Cross!

The Cross was a hated symbol in the ancient world. Crucifixion must have been the most brutal means of execution ever devised.

Unlike modern methods of capital punishment that are designed to produce a quick death…
… Crucifixion was meant to ensure that the person on the cross would die a slow, agonizing death!

The Cross was supposed to make a perfect mockery of Jesus!

But Jesus on the Cross shames this notion of the world!

The world feels greatly arrogant in being Proud!

The world loves to show off its ability and to say that it is capable of being totally independent!

But Jesus on the Cross proves that human beings can never redeem themselves…
… they have to come to God!

Jesus on the Cross stands as a silent sentinel proclaiming that you have to come to God’s way…
… or you won’t come at all.

The Cross stands in judgment over the sinful pride of the human race.

The Cross – which was symbolic of oppression and misery…
… now with Jesus, symbolizes life and redemption to all!

Yes, the Cross is a symbol of shame to the world!

But for Christians, it is a symbol of salvation!

The Cross is a symbol of absolute stupidity and absurdness to the world!

But for Christians, it’s a symbol of the majestic wisdom of God!

St John of the Cross would say: “The road is narrow. He who wishes to travel it more easily
must cast off all things and use the Cross as his cane.

In other words, he must be truly resolved to suffer willingly for the love of God in all things.”

Two thieves on either sides died with Christ on the Cross:

One mocked Jesus; the other sought Jesus
One took pride in himself; the other humbled himself
One lost a golden opportunity; the other won the Prized Paradise!

The Cross with Jesus hanging beckons to each one of us now

We have a choice – like both the thieves…

Are we going to lose a golden opportunity…
… or are we going to seek the Prized Paradise?

The Choice is ours!

Escape from the Cross, or embrace the Cross!
Exit the Cross, or exalt the Cross!

In many of our Chapels or our homes, we have the Crucifix, placed at a certain height.

We all love to come before this Crucifix and express our words of devotion and endearment.

But perhaps, the Crucified Saviour, is today calling us, from the Cross and telling us: “My Child, Do not be far from me. Come closer to me and learn to embrace me from close.”

And when we go closer to the Crucifix, we also realise that if we turn the Crucifix, behind, there is an empty place.

Yes, there is a vacancy, a place for us to be crucified with our Suffering Lord.

Are we ready for this?

Are we ready to REALLY love the Lord?
Are we ready to embrace the Cross of Christ and be His genuine followers?

When we find ourselves struggling with the hardships and trials of life…
When we feel the intense emptiness of God’s presence in our lives…

We need to be like the pilgrims of the “Hill of Crosses”…
… planting the crosses of our difficulties on the inner hill of our hearts
And thus finding peace, consolation and strength!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Mount Calvary is the Academy of Love!”

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