Stay a while. Do not hurry by the cross on your way to Easter joy, for we know the risen Lord only through Christ and Him crucified.
– Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, “Father, Forgive Them”
In Fr. Neuhaus’s piece, his first meditation on the last seven words, he speaks of the gift of the Cross and the need to remember the Cross’s central place in our lives especially in light of the need for forgiveness and repentance. It is necessary for an appropriate understanding of the faith:
Jesus might have been merely a moral teacher, pointing out the grotesque error of the judgment. Christianity would then have become a school of thought promoting his moral philosophy. Jesus came, however, to be the Lamb of God, living out and dying out this falsehood that would not die unless taken to its final conclusion. Only in this way would he be lifted up and draw all men to himself, not simply as our teacher but as our Savior and our Love. Only by submitting to our folly could he save us from our folly. The drama had to be played out all the way.
In a recent interview, an old friend of mine, Fr. Jordan Turano, OP, speaks of his own falling away and returning to the Church. In addition to his personal story, Fr. Jordan speaks of the joy we should have to face persecution for the sake of the Gospel in light of Truth. Because we are girded by the truth, we can rest secure in the knowledge that the Easter joy will come. And if we disregard the Cross in favor of something “real” that we seek in this world, we will miss the fundamental point of Christianity. As Neuhaus said,
It is by this world, this world at the cross, that reality is measured and judged. That other world, the world we call real, is a distant country until we with Christ bring it home to the waiting father.
The waiting father is the Prodigal Son’s father, waiting with joyful expectation and a heart of mercy for his son to return. The Lord is always waiting for us—and whether we know it or not, is working on our hearts through His grace. Fr. Jordan’s life is a great example of this.