Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Passion and the Cross by Ronald Rolheiser

The crucifixion is the other side of the coin of the nativity. As we approach Christmas through the doors of advent we see the love of God through the incarnation. Both the incarnation and the crucifixion show not just how much God loves us but they also show us how to love each other. The first chapter explains about the passivity of Jesus and how all during the crucifixion Jesus was not only passive about resisting but showed great love to his tormentors. Jesus demonstrated how to turn anger, hate and hurt into peace, love and health. Subsequent chapters unpack the mystery of the cross and Jesus as redeemer not rescuer. God did not promise we would not suffer but showed us how to turn bad into good. Christ redeems our suffering and gives it meaning. Rolheiser states, "the love that Christ reveals in the cross is so strong that it can descend into any hell we can create, thaw out our frozen souls, and lead us into the light and peace of paradise, despite our fears and weaknesses."
True love is sacrificial. In The Passion and the Cross, "This is what constitutes the sacrificial part of his love; namely, the excruciatingly pain (ex cruce, from “the cross”) that he had to undergo in order to take in hatred and give back love. But that is the only way that sin can ever leave a community; someone has to take it in, hold it, carry it, and, through a certain excruciating sacrifice of self, transform it into something else." Love is relational and transformative. We see this in the baby Jesus, stated by Rolheiser as "But God’s power is the power of exousia— a baby that lays helpless, muted, patient, beckoning for someone to take care of it. It’s this power that lies at the deepest base of things and will, in the end, gently, have the final say. It’s also the only power upon which love and community can be created because it, and it alone, ultimately softens rather than breaks the heart.
It is important while standing at the manger at Christmas we remember the standing at the cross that will be forthcoming at Easter. This completes the love story of Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection. I would recommend this book to you to bring forth ideas I had not otherwise been exposed to in theology and exposition of the love of God. Why did Jesus have to be crucified? How are we redeemed? The Passion and the Cross brings the answers into focus.

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