Saturday, 24 February 2018

Lent 2: Jesus receives His cross: Pauline West

He receives; he accepts; he carries the cross.

The picture is full of symbolism. I asked a friend to look at it and share with me what she saw physically and what she felt emotionally. After a time of silence we shared and shared and shared. There was so much reminding us of Jesus’ life seen through the stories in the gospels; there were so many emotions and declarations of intent coming from the figure with the cross. So I invite you to sit with the picture; gaze at it; let it remind you of what you know about Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit; let it stir a mix of emotions, emotions that are God’s as Jesus receives the cross.

He receives; he accepts; he carries the cross.

We receive many things; we do not always accept them and if we do we may not go on to make them part of our life. Jesus did all three with the cross. The cross was seen as a symbol of shame; rejection and suffering. In his ministry indeed, you could argue, from his birth Jesus receives, accepts and carries all three symbols of the cross. He carried their burden for the sake of others bowed down by these realities. He carried them with an intense desire that people should know God also carries them. And because he carried them the burden was lighter for the people, hope was born, and life was offered. It is the same today.

For me in the picture the purity of God is receiving and accepting the impurities of his beloved creation. Jesus knows what he is doing. There is strength and determination in the face and the cross is held ready to be lifted up in glory. The journey to that end will be indescribably hard. That is the journey we attempt to understand in Lent. The symbols in the picture surround Jesus with memories of promises fulfilled in the past in heaven and on earth: memories that sustain the journey to its glorious end.

Jesus receives the cross. By following him we receive ours: our invitation to be vulnerable in the love of God to the frailty of our neighbours and ourselves and open to the power of God.

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