There is a book entitled: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Many people went to the book store looking for answers. Jesus never gave us a pat answer to suffering; but he did give us meaning. The meaning is found in that profound phrase: “I did not come to be served but to serve by offering my life”. It is a life of self-giving.
Christ’s life of self-giving is continued in the Eucharist. There He reminds us: “This is my body which is for you; this is my blood which is for you.” The Lord invites us to share in His self-giving by saying the same to Him: ‘This is my body which is for you; this is my blood which is for you”. They tell the story of the Little Flower towards the end of her life. She asked one of the sisters to walk with her in the garden. The companion could tell that St. Theresa was in great discomfort and therefore should return to the convent. St. Theresa replied: “No, I am walking for a missionary”. It was her self-offering.
Lest we forget, we have been given a sacred sign. It is the Sign of the Cross. The Sign of the Cross goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. It is made over us at Baptism when we become members of the Church, and is the last sign made over us as we pass to our future life. We begin and end our prayers with it. When we “bless ourselves” we trace the figure of the cross with our hand on our forehead, our heart, and our shoulders saying: ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
The Sign of the Cross is a prayer of blessing because it symbolizes God embracing us and blessing us. For the Jews God is always the One who blesses. God blessed Noah and saved the world from the flood. He blessed the Jewish people and saved them from the slavery of Egypt. Life itself and all creation are blessings from God. Since God blesses us always and everywhere, we bless God in return: “I will bless the Lord at all times”, says the psalmist.
As Christians we believe that the Cross of Jesus Christ is the greatest blessing given to us. Why is it the greatest blessing? Because God expresses his love for us above all in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for us and rose again. The Sign of the Cross reminds us that Jesus’ love for us never ends. His blessings are ours forever.
- Fr. Theodore Walsh, C.P.