jesus crucified - smallWritten by: Joanne Matters

“Our understanding, which is enlightened by the Spirit of truth, should receive with purity and freedom of heart the glory of the cross as it shines in heaven and on earth.”

These are the words of Leo the Great, Pope and Saint, during a Good Friday sermon.

What does it mean to “receive… the glory of the cross”?

Are we not mourning the death of our Lord Jesus Christ today? Do we not see the cross as the instrument of His death, that which took the nails thrust into His flesh, the cross that hung Him high to be mocked and reviled?

Was not the cross an instrument of torture and cruelty?

Yet, we are asked to “receive… the glory of the cross” today, even as we mourn.

It was my sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. I weep for the part I have played in His crucifixion.

And I repent.

It is here that we understand the meaning in Pope St Leo’s words, “Our understanding, which is enlightened by the Spirit of truth, should receive with purity and freedom of heart the glory of the cross as it shines in heaven and on earth.”

There is no purity or freedom without repentance. There is no enlightenment without a contrite heart. And there is no life without the cross.

The cross is our freedom. The cross is our purity.

In today’s Morning Prayer, Antiphon 3 reads: “We worship your cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify your holy resurrection, for the wood of the cross has brought joy to the world.”

Today is a day of contradictions. Sadness and joy. Death and life. That is the cross. This is our faith.

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