Cross and glory

Good Friday/Easter thoughts about the totality of salvation
Nyomtatóbarát változatNyomtatóbarát változat

 

1. Good Friday: The Path of the Cross – understandings and misunderstandings. Christ’s Cross stands in the center of Christian faith, in the middle of our hearts. Still: we are unable to understand the scandal of the Cross. Human thought is very much limited and simplifying. We think: If something is that majestic like Jesus, it cannot be humiliated. When we feel that "something is wrong" with the serial scandals of Jesus we actually feel that there is something wrong with ourselves because we are still not able to stand in front of Jesus and look at the beautiful Totality of His Face, Cross and judgment. With everything. With anything. With Him. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my Good Friday essay published here.)

 

2. Holy Saturday: The beauty of the Silence of mourning. It is silence on Holy Saturday. Is this silence frightful? Is it the silence of the absence of Jesus? No, it is not! It is the silence of hope, expectation and our internal communion with Jesus. The Silence of the Holy Saturday is the Silence of God’s Totality and Purity reflected in Jesus. Good Friday is the occasion to face ourselves, while Holy Saturday is the time for immerse in ourselves. Let’s feel as we approach the core of our existence: the power of the resurrection’s Gospel that rewrites everything. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my Good Friday essay published here.)

 

3. Easter: The Glory of resurrection. According to the Greek Orthodox thinking Christ suffers for us on the Cross in every moment. Let us experience this as the inconceivable pain of the Father above the Cross, the suffering of Christ on the Cross and the heartbreaking pain of Holy Mary under the Cross are becoming unified. Let us experience the dignity of that the Father does not stamp the Creation but opens the direct Path to Himself as the tapestry of the Sanctuary of the Jerusalem Church is ripped apart (Matthew 27:51a). The covenant is made once and for all: the Father has become the Father of us all to whom we all can turn to – by Jesus and for Jesus – in a first name basis. Let us experience the beauty of resurrection! Let our hearts also resurrect from their dead and let them revive, live a new life that is Eternal! Let us ask for it together with the psalmist: "One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple." (Psalms 26:4). Our prayer in the Psalms has been fulfilled: the fact of resurrection is unchangeable, irrevocable and eternal. Hallelujah! Amen. (If you would like to read about this more, please, read my Good Friday essay published here.)

 


 

Introduction. As I wrote in my first essay in September, I will go along a whole course of a spiritual retreat with my essays until summer. With the Christmas post we have arrived at the end of the first week of the four weeks’ long spiritual retreat: Christ may have been born within us, we may have been given places in the House of God and we may have realized that we were the Children of God. My four essays covering the second week of the spiritual retreat confronted us with our sins. Both our community sins and our own personal sins have been examined, we have thought about the conditions of our good choices, and we have answered the question what is the most important decision of our whole lives. Until the coming summer we will go along the second two weeks of the four weeks’ long spiritual retreat: praying throughout the whole earth life of Christ, our Lord.

-----------------we reached this point in our prayer--------------------------------------------------------

 

1. Good Friday: The Path of the Cross – understandings and misunderstandings

 

Christ’s Cross stands in the center of Christian faith, in the middle of our hearts. As almost any of our faith’s deepest secrets (like the Holy Communion, the resurrection, the Kingdom of God that lives in us, the Eternal Life, the Trinity itself and so on...), the Cross cannot be comprehended by human thoughts either. We are unable to understand the scandal of the Cross, whose real depth was pointed out by Luther when he completed Christ’s psalmodic words of "O God my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46; Psalms 21:2a) with the 7th verse of the same psalm: "But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people". Human thought is very much limited and simplifying. We think: If something is that majestic like Jesus, it cannot be humiliated. Let’s think this over: even complex systems comprehensible by the human mind are advanced because they are capable of opposing behaviors – at the same time. The essence of Jesus (i.e. God’s omnipotent Totality) is that He can be the Only-Begotten, Savior Son of God and a "worm" at the same time. When we feel that "something is wrong" with the serial scandals of Jesus we actually feel that there is something wrong with ourselves because we are still not able to stand in front of Jesus and look at the beautiful Totality of His Face, Cross and judgment. With everything. With anything. With Him.

 

The Cross is one of the deepest images of suffering in this world. The Cross is also one of the peaks of human sin’s manifestation. We can meet Jesus in the most intensive way through our sufferings symbolized with the Cross. All this is described in a very didactic picture, as the counterpart of the "theology of the glory" by the Lutheran theology of the cross (see e.g. Gerhard O. Forde, 2005), where the glory is a human glory that can be deserved by human deeds and compliance with the law, which had been a practice of the Catholic Church in many places at the time of Martin Luther in the 16th century. However, it may also happen that this already didactically simple view becomes simplified even further: "the theologists of self-denial and asceticism" consider all kinds of glory harmful. Here we go to the other extreme. Christ being on the Cross, as our Savior fulfilling His mission humbly, glows in the Glory of God just as much as He becomes the "worm" taking over the totality of our sins. The sin (the devil) living in us cannot break the Glory of Christ by killing Him on the Cross as a human being. This murder is exactly why and how the Glory of Christ becomes the Totality of the Father, which breaks the power of the Evil. Exactly because of the duality of the "worm" and the Glory, the Cross has become and remains the center of the Earthly life, because it unifies the horizontal level of the Earthly life with the vertical level of the Father’s outpouring love in one single point, in the sufferings of Jesus. Thus the correct answer for the question whether "we are miserable or redeemed" is that "we are miserable AND redeemed".

 

 

Luther himself made a clear distinction between the Glory of God, that he also had a deep respect for, and the theology of glory: "It is needless to say that glory has a totally different meaning here than in the theology of the glory. The glory of God comes from God’s mercy and power. But the glory of the theology of the glory is a man-made idea that is adopted by the sinner creatures while they wish to usurp the divine glory." Let me quote a part of the speech of Pope Francis that he gave on the occasion of starting his service on 19th March, 2013, which refers to the fact that today’s Catholic Church also significantly moves to the direction of the church of the Cross instead of being the church of the human glory: "While exercising his power, the Pope also has to undertake the service that has its radiating pinnacle on the Cross."

 


 

2. Holy Saturday: The beauty of the Silence of mourning

 

 

There is silence on Holy Saturday. Is this silence frightful? Is it the silence of the absence of Jesus? No, it is not! It is the silence of hope, expectation and our internal communion with Jesus. The Silence of the Holy Saturday is the Silence of God’s Totality and Purity reflected in Jesus. Good Friday is the occasion to face ourselves, while Holy Saturday is the time for immerse in ourselves. Let’s feel as we approach the core of our existence: the power of the resurrection’s Gospel that rewrites everything. These psalms may help us do so.

  • The wicked walk round about: according to thy highness, thou hast multiplied the children of men (11:9)
  • They are all gone aside, they are become unprofitable together: there is none that doth good: no not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they acted deceitfully: the poison of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and unhappiness in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes (13:3)
  • For the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up: and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. (68:10)
  • For many dogs have encompassed me: the council of the malignant hath besieged me. They have dug my hands and feet. They lparted my garments amongst them; and upon my vesture they cast lots.(21:17,19)
  • For they have destroyed the things which thou hast made: but what has the just man done? (10:4)
  • Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will call upon the name of the Lord, our God. (19:8) The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls (18:8a) For the word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done with faithfulness. (32:4) The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me.(22:1,4)
  • Therefore my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced ... nor wilt thou give thy holy one to see corruption (15:9,10)
  • For thou wilt bless the just. O Lord, thou hast crowned us, as with a shield of thy good will (5:13)
  • All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after his covenant and his testimonies. (24:10)
  • Embrace discipline ... blessed are all they that trust in him (2:12)
  • For with thee is the fountain of life; and in thy light we shall see light. (35:10)
  • And a congregation of people shall surround thee. And for their sakes return thou on high (7:8) Amen.

 


 

3. Easter: The Glory of resurrection

 

"The veil of the Temple is ripped apart by the Cross. No more obstacles! There is free access. – Is there? Yes, there is! The tapestry is ripped, and what the Lord has opened, no-one can close any more. – What causes the big misery of the souls again? It is because a new tapestry has lowered but not covering the entry to the Holy of Holies of the Temple but in front of the eyes of some people preventing them to see what the Lord has prepared for them." (Aladár Gáncs, Tapestry and rock, 1928)

 

 

According to the Greek Orthodox thinking Christ suffers for us on the Cross in every moment (also right now as the Reader reads these lines). Let us experience this as the inconceivable pain of the Father above the Cross, the suffering of Christ on the Cross and the heartbreaking pain of Holy Mary under the Cross are becoming unified. Let us experience the dignity of that the Father does not stamp the Creation but opens the direct Path to Himself as the veil of the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem Temple is ripped apart (Matthew 27:51a). The covenant is made once and for all: the Father has become the Father of us all to whom we all can turn to – by Jesus and for Jesus – in a first name basis. Let us experience the beauty of resurrection! Let our hearts also resurrect from their dead and let them revive, live a new life that is Eternal! Let us ask for it together with the psalmist: "One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple." (Psalms 26:4). Our prayer in the Psalms has been fulfilled: the fact of resurrection is unchangeable, irrevocable and eternal. Hallelujah! Amen.

 

 

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