Death and the Cross
To this world, the Cross of Christ —God’s immeasurable, indestructible power of love — is foolish and weak, as are those who choose to take it up by uniting themselves to his Body. This world is severed from the eternal life of the Holy Trinity and is living (or rather dying) in the darkness of unreality. Blinded to the reality that death is overthrown in Christ, (1 Cor 4:3–4) the world fears death above all things—not only the death of the body, but also the death of pleasure, of the ego, of one’s social or economic status. It is this death that even we feel deeply and know experientially at times. It is the death that is at the root of all our fears, anxieties, tensions, our chronic sense of isolation from God, from others, and even from ourselves. We find ourselves ultimately incapable of being who we want to be and of doing all the good we desire.1 It makes living at peace with one another seemingly impossible; death is a constant reminder that something is terribly wrong with the world in which we live. Estranged from the eternal life of the Holy Trinity that is in Christ, it is the way of those who are of this world to seek life in self-preservation, pleasure, power, wealth, prestige, etc. And they seek it in the creation rather than the Creator. So it is that sin reigned in death.
“Because of the tender compassion of Thy mercy, O Master, Thou couldst not endure to behold mankind oppressed by the Devil; but Thou didst come, and didst save us.”2 Death has been overthrown for us by the Cross of Christ who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. And death is overthrown in us when, we take up his Cross and follow him, “trampling down death by death” ourselves by the power of Christ’s own life. No longer fearing death of any kind, the life of Christ in us enables us to pour out our lives completely, loving one another in the same way — and to the same extent — that God has loved us. Having the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, we can be free of anxiety, love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who persecute us and use us spitefully, refusing to return evil for evil, but rather doing those things that witness to the peace of God in us.3