“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!” (Romans 5:10).

Only the sufferings of Christ are valuable in the sight of God, who hates evil, and to Him they are valuable chiefly as a sign. The death of Jesus on the cross has an infinite meaning and value not because it is a death, but because it is the death of the Son of God. The cross of Christ says nothing of the power of suffering or of death. It speaks only of the power of Him who overcame both suffering and death by rising from the grave. The wounds that evil stamped upon the flesh of Christ are to be worshiped as holy not because they are wounds, but because they are His wounds. Nor would we worship them if He had merely died of them, without rising again. For Jesus is not merely someone who once loved us enough to die for us. His love for us is the infinite love of God, which is stronger than all evil and cannot be touched by death. It is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.

To know the cross is not to merely know our own sufferings. For the cross is the sign of salvation, and no one is saved by his own sufferings. To know the cross is to know that we are saved by the sufferings of Christ; more, it is to know the love of Christ who underwent suffering and death to save us. It is, then, to know Christ. For to know His love is not merely to know the story of His love, but to experience in our spirit that we are loved by Him, and that in His love the Father manifests His own love for us, through His Spirit poured forth into our hearts.

Adapted from Bread and Wine (Thomas Merton)