Holy Cross and Peace
A symbol signposts us to something else; they remind us of numbers, brands, countries, clubs, beliefs, etc. Usually, they are meaningless by themselves; the representee gives them an identity. What can we see in a Kalashnikov rifle, a killing aid, a war accessory? How about seeing it on a country's flag? Now our impression might change, for better or worse, probably based on our previous information, knowledge, personal beliefs, or background. A simple letter of the alphabet in a specific colour and shape can give us a deep sense of guilt because of all the diet promises we have broken.
An accessory of torture must be hard to relate to; normally, it must disgust or terrify us. We may want to get rid of it, even its photo. But sometimes, objects have powerful symbolic meanings. They can change our minds and perspectives. Two simple planks of wood sticking to each other can direct us to a new world, a history of two millennia. These woods can remind us of sacrifice, forgiveness, Passion, and salvation, despite it being a tool for torment and execution. Another symbol that we see quite often and easily relate to is the image of a dove. Dove is a powerful figure in Christianity. It appears multiple times in Bible and represents Divinity. It also is a symbol of peace not just for Christians but for everyone.
Last Wednesday was "Holy Cross Day”, and this one is "Peace Day". For Christians, the Cross is a strong reminder of the Passion of Jesus Christ and a sign of the ultimate sacrifice that he did for us. Cross was a device for torture and murder in the most horrible and painful way; it was inhuman and violent. Jesus Christ taught us to carry our Cross in this world to be ready to face the difficulties of living as a Christian, in the most inhuman and violent forms. However, the “Feast of the Holy Cross” is not just about the Passion of Christ. It is more about the Cross itself as a sign of salvation. Today, we can look at the Cross and think about the one who died to rescue us. He was not our blood relative; he even did not live in our area nor our time, but still died for us on the Cross to free us from sins and save us. The path of salvation crosses the Cross. The Cross was the start of a new era in the history of salvation. The time between the first and ultimate sacrifices ended, and the era of salvation in Jesus Christ started. What happened on that Cross, was not just the execution of a man. It put an end to the system of sacrifices. The blood-shedding that once seemed necessary for forgiveness, now, for us Christians, is out of the question. And that's why I think the cross is the true symbol of peace. Forgiveness and salvation now come from a man who crucified himself to spread the love, toward the Lord and toward our neighbours who are the entire humanity and such a Love brings true peace with sustainability.
I wrote the first draft of this blog two weeks ago. When I was talking about the two eras, Queen Elizabeth II (May her soul rest in peace) was still on the throne, and we were living at her age. But suddenly, that era ended just in one moment. That was quite a shock to me and probably most of the population. The majority of people have never seen another era. To us, seeing the queen at the top of the monarchy was an ordinary thing, but suddenly we found ourselves at the heart of an important historic transition.
I wonder what was the people’s understanding of the ongoing events in Golgotha at the time. Those who were watching him suffering, did they realise the significance of the moment? I am not quite sure even now we can completely conceive the significance of that moment as the influence of the crucifixion of Jesus on different aspects of human history is beyond our imagination. I wonder, today, a week after the “Holy Cross Day,” and after cherishing the International Day of Peace, do we see the connection between the Cross and peace? What would be the meaning of carrying our cross in this world, to us? Can we see the way that the Cross affects our personal lives? And can we bring Jesus's work on the Cross into our lives? These are very personal questions, but they are worth thinking about. One may argue that it is hard to connect the Cross and peace after all the wars that happened in the name of Christianity. That is true, but also many others happened in the name of peace itself! It is a strange thing that we do as humankind. I do not intend to start such an argument here. The one thing that I constantly remind myself of is that Jesus condemned the act of violence right at the night before his death. He surrendered himself to be a living sacrifice, to forgive our sins, help us live out of violence in peace, and show us the truly sustainable peace comes from sacrifice and deep belief.
That is a wonderful coincidence that Peace Day comes a week After Holy Cross Day. Today, it is worth thinking about these two concepts altogether with the new era that we started after Her late Majesty the Queen. Let's reflect on the role we play in this period of history. Maybe two thousand years later, a random person asks about our understanding of the significance of the historic moments we just passed by.
God bless you