The power of the cross
12 OCT 2013
Address of Archbishop Michael W. Banach,
Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea,
Missioning Ceremony - Blessing of Crosses
Divine Word University – Madang
11 October 2013
In my homily, I told you that the Divine Word is powerful. What is this power that Jesus gives? Well, St. Paul says it clearly: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world...From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body” (Gal 6:14ff). It is the Cross that gives us the power to do the great deeds that Jesus predicts of us. It is the Cross that enables us to conquer evil.
One of the great Church Fathers, Maximus of Turin, said: “Since we possess the Lord Jesus who has freed us by his suffering, let us always look on him and hope for medicine for our wounds from his sign of the Cross. That is to say, if perhaps the poison of greed spreads in us, we should look to him and he will heal us. If the malicious desire of the scorpion stings us, we should beg him and he will cure us. If bites of worldly thoughts tear us, we should ask him and we will live. These are the spiritual serpents of our souls. The Lord was crucified in order to crush them (Sermon 37.5).”
In other words, it is when we are close to the Cross of Christ that we have power. In practical terms that means staying close to Jesus, calling his name to our lips, not as a curse word, but as a word of power and prayer. That means trying to live his message, not just doing good deeds, but allowing goodness to be absorbed in our souls–becoming genuinely good people.
The disciples were successful in their mission because they were so on fire with the Lord, so close to him, that when people saw or heard them, they saw and heard Christ. So the other thing we need is transparency; we have to let Jesus shine through us and that can only happen if we truly believe that Jesus is Lord of our lives. I’ve seen churches where the power of Christ is waning, because people are not holding fast to the Cross of Christ.
The crosses you will receive will serve to remind you of God’s love, whose only Son died on the cross for the salvation of the world. That event changed the course of human history. It has changed our lives. As the English Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton said: “The men of the East may spell the stars, And times and triumphs mark, But the men signed by the cross of Christ Go happily in the dark” (The Ballard of the White Horse).
You are now sent to be seen as a light of Christ, to be seen as a beacon of hope, as a sign and image of goodness. In the power of the cross, bring this light and love and hope to all those you will meet. Use the power of the cross to ensure that any evil in your little corner of the world will be banished and on the run. That’s your task, that’s your goal, that’s how we put the Gospel into practice.
Let us now ask God to bless these crosses:
Heavenly Father, you sent your Son to us because you love us, and want to save us. By the power of his cross, free us from sin and let us live each day for you. Bless these signs of glory, and let them remind us that Jesus died and rose for all. Help us to carry our cross with his every day and to follow him in serving others. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.