Triumph of the cross
GOD’S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. (The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2014 - 12:00am

In today’s Second Reading, St. Paul emphasizes how much the divine-human Jesus loved us that he gave his very life for our salvation. Christ Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness . . . becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil.2:7-8). But as God the Son, he resurrected from death on the third day, and gifted us, his faithful disciples, with eternal life. The triumph of the cross.

It is significant to mention here that in the early history of the church, they distinguished between the crucifix and the cross. The crucifix carried the nailed, crucified body of Christ, whereas the cross no longer carried the body of Christ, who had already resurrected to eternal life. Thus, the triumph of the cross. Both the crucifix and the cross are the manifestations of Christ’s love for us, his disciples, his brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Thus, we are to respond in kind, if we really choose to be the loving and faithful disciples of Christ. In the name of love, each one of us is given a cross to carry and to be nailed to — at times a light cross, at other times a heavy one. But as long as we carry it as a manifestation of our love for God and neighbor, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, we will definitely experience our resurrection, both during our mortal life and after our mortal life. The triumph of the cross!

Let me single out this couple who married each other after a year of courtship. Little did they know how different their personality qualities were until they started living with each other day after day. The husband had a high IQ (intelligence quotient) but low EQ (emotional quotient), whereas the wife had an average IQ but very high EQ. Their expectations from each other did not match, and they started to quarrel more and more often, until they felt like separation was the solution. In other words, the wife felt that her husband was the cross she was carrying with unbearable pain, while the husband felt that his wife was his cross that he could no longer bear. But strangely enough, they both felt that there was still love between them, buried under a heap of garbage, so they decided to go for marital counseling.

In time, each spouse became aware of what he/she was contributing to the problem. The husband realized that as a typical woman, his wife was hungry for interpersonal affection and intimacy in word and action, which he admitted that he had habitually neglected and taken for granted. Not only that. There were times when he thought she was “tanga” and “gaga,” and this was felt by the wife through his external behavior toward her.

On the other hand, the wife became aware of her husband’s need to be appreciated and looked up to as a college professor, and be empathized with when his academic burdens were becoming heavy. What motivated them most to change and reach out to each other’s needs was an inner awareness of God’s presence within each one of them, which was facilitated during their counseling sessions. This revitalized their love for each other, and they both experienced the triumph of the cross. No more, no less!

Moving now to our wider community and cultural situation, our national cross is indeed heavy and very difficult to carry. But even in the midst of widespread corruption, the triumph of the cross is inspiringly present in the lives of the majority of our Filipino families in all sectors of our society, especially those who are living in poverty, making both ends meet with much suffering and pain, but morally honest and seriously dedicated to their jobs. I am saying this, not to support the social injustice being committed by quite a number of politicians and businessmen, but to emphasize that the majority of our Filipino families are precisely manifestations of the triumph of the cross.

Even natural disasters like the super typhoon Yolanda, and later Glenda, are not signs of abandonment, punishment, or testing by our ever-compassionate God, but they are rather opportunities given for us to love one another even more than ever before. And we have seen this happening.

In God’s own time and way, my faith tells me that the Lord’s intervention will gradually lead us to a continuing national triumph of the cross, as a form of resurrection, just as he did at Edsa I and later at Edsa II. There may very well be some form of Edsa III, which will be nothing less than a national triumph of the cross. Let me repeat what I have already quoted from our beloved Pope Francis in this column: “The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a social sin that cries out to heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”

In our Philippine context, this opportunity and challenge toward a national triumph of the cross is definitely God’s call. Let us do all we can to love and follow him, toward a more equitable distribution of God’s resources. Christian socialism. Amen.

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