“Because by Your Holy Cross, You have Redeemed the World”

Today in neighborhoods across the Archdiocese of Washington, as in many places around the globe, people are walking in solemn procession behind large wooden crosses commemorating the crucifixion and death of our Lord.

Some of the processions will takes place in the context of the Stations of the Cross, stopping at various churches or at places where lives have been lost or where neighbors are experiencing homelessness or other crisis. At one and the same time, we reflect on how this human suffering is reflected in that experienced by our Lord and the hope Jesus offers in transforming the pain and misery of this world through his own Passion and death.

Echoing through the archdiocese will be one of the most familiar and cherished forms of the Way of the Cross, “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.” To which people reply, “Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.” In this brief invitatory and response, Saint Alphonsus Liguori captured the essence of the article of the Creed which proclaims that “for our sake,” Jesus “was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried.”

There is so much more to this statement of faith than the simple recognition that Christ died. If by his Cross Christ had not redeemed us, his death would have little meaning. What all those who walk in procession today share with the world is that with the eyes of faith, the Apostles and all believers gaze on the cross and see much more than just the instrument of which Jesus hung until he died.

The sufferings of Jesus and the glory of his resurrection are inseparably joined in the Paschal Mystery. The preface of Easter proclaims, “By dying he destroyed our death and by rising he restored our life.” The Father saved us not only by delivering up his Son for us but also by raising him from the dead (see 1 Peter 1:3-5). It is for this reason that we say the Cross of Christ points toward and is fulfilled in the Resurrection.

When we reflect on the article of the Creed that proclaims that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried, we find ourselves joining Saint Paul, Saint Alphonsus Liguori and so many others. With them we proclaim, “we adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”