The Cross – Transforming Power of God
By Friar Alberto Bravo, OFM Conv.
If one was to enter the Conventual Franciscan parish of the Holy Cross in Würzburg, Germany, you might be in awe at the beautiful stained glass window depicting the life of St. Francis of Assisi behind the altar. Or, perhaps feel small standing underneath the high ceiling supported by eight massive pillars. Whatever it may be, the place invites one to enter and be in the presence of the love of God. However, not many people would know that the pillars that support the ceiling, underneath the stone covering, are eight cannon barrels from military tanks from World War II. On March 16, 1945, Würzburg was reduced to the ground, with limited resources available during the war; the residents began to rebuild. The eight cannon barrels, once a symbol of destruction and death, are now pillars of peace that provide a gathering place to worship. They were transformed.
Today, all around the world, we lift our eyes to the cross. The cross an instrument of torture and death reserved only for those who had committed the most heinous of crimes. Crucifixion was a public event; meant to shock one to the core and keep them under control. However, Jesus embraced and mounted the cross as a king embraces his throne. A symbol, once of pain and suffering, now a symbol of unconditional love. Many believed that this was the end for this man. However, St. Paul reminds us, “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1: 25) Jesus transformed the cross, the instrument of suffering and death, into the instrument of unconditional love. What was once a symbol of oppression, is now an invitation to look up at the greatest act of love. This action is what St. Paul spoke of as the wisdom of God. God acts in everything, even through those things that repulse us and shock us to our core. The message of the cross is the saving power of God, the transforming power of God in our lives.
Today, on this Good Friday, find time to hold a crucifix and fix your eyes on the gaze of love. Find comfort in knowing that God is present even when all hope seems lost. May today fill us with the hope that God is continuously working in our lives; that he is healing our broken hearts and binding up our wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
“Behold the wood of the cross, on which is hung our salvation…”