Monday, October 22, 2007

Why Do Catholics Keep Jesus On The Cross?

Twice, I've had close friends inform me that Catholics do not believe that Jesus rose again from the dead. Despite my assurances that we do indeed believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, my friends were certain that I was wrong. Where they got such incorrect information I do not know.

So for the record, yes, Catholics believe Jesus rose from the dead. I promise you, I wouldn't get up early on Sunday morning to attend mass if I didn't believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead! I'm far to lazy to attend a weekly memorial for a nice human(which is all Jesus would be if he hadn't risen from the dead)

More often I get asked by non Catholic Christians, "Why do you, Catholics, keep Jesus up on the cross?" The perception, among some Protestants is that we Catholics spend too much time thinking about Jesus' death and not enough time contemplating his resurrection. If this is true then Catholics are in good company.

In 1st Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 23. Paul says, "...but we preach Christ crucified..." But Jesus is risen, what is Paul speaking about? Doesn't he know that we shouldn't be concentrating on Jesus's death? Again in Cor 2:2 Paul writes, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

Some have expressed distaste at the thought of depicting Jesus at his most vulnerable. Guess what? This should make you uncomfortable. Every lash that he took, every blow that drove the nail into his hands was caused by you and me. Our sins hung Jesus on that cross. The crucifix is the ultimate expression of the lengths that a loving God will go to reach us. For me, gazing at a crucifix is a humbling experience.

There are some Protestants who take offense at the crucifix because they view it as idolatry. In order for a crucifix to be an idol then Catholics would have to honestly believe that Jesus Was the crucifix. We don't. The crucifix is merely a representation of his death and suffering. Catholics don't view the crucifix as Jesus himself. Ironically those who get upset over the crucifix being an idol don't worry about carrying pictures of their loved ones. Photos are representations just like the crucifix. If the crucifix bothers you then to be honest you should empty your wallet and albums of all photos.

Just for the record, I take no offense at the bare cross itself. I understand that it as a symbol of Christian faith and I own a couple of bare crosses myself. I personally, though, think that the bare cross is a very empty symbol for Christ's resurrection. After all, Jesus came down dead from the cross. So, if one got nit picky, then the empty cross would actually symbolize defeat. Jesus rose from the tomb, not the cross. In order to represent his victory over death(which is what some Protestants claim the empty cross does) one would have to wear a little copy of the tomb or a tiny rock.

All Christians, both non Catholic and Catholic, exist in a world that is not always friendly to our faith. Instead of tearing apart one another's symbols maybe we should just be happy to meet a fellow believer.

7 comments:

Kevin - "pax tecum" said...

Thanks for the post...

"Every lash that he took, every blow that drove the nail into his hands was caused by you and me."

Remind your friends that Jesus also took the lash for all sin...even the ones we have yet to commit. We are still crucifying him to this day as will the generations to come. Although I doubt they will be very receptive to this idea...

Coffee Catholic said...

Catholics keep Jesus on the cross because it was *Jesus* that saved us - not the cross!

deb said...

Kevin
I can honestly say that concentrating on the crucifix has humbled me greatly.


coffee catholic
You are right it was Jesus, not the cross, itself, that has saved us.

Anonymous said...

THANX! MY BROTHER AND I WERE FIGHTING OVER THIS TOPIC AND AND I GUESS HE WAS RIGHT!LOL.

deb said...

Now I am curious what you both were fighting over.

Anonymous said...

Wow thanks a lot for all the insight it really answered my question

Anonymous said...

"In order to represent his victory over death(which is what some Protestants claim the empty cross does) one would have to wear a little copy of the tomb or a tiny rock." ROFLMAO!!!!!