Today we celebrate the central image of our faith, the cross. This stark means of torture reminds us we all will suffer and we all will die. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (1) In dying we live. Most anything would be more palatable. Nothing is so essential. Jesus’ death on the cross saves us. We must die, surrender, daily in order to live.
When I first served as a hospital chaplain, the cross became more real and meaningful as I listened to much heartache. I realized that Jesus was listening to the same heartache but not for a few minutes and not for just a few people. Jesus knows everyone and listens to everyone’s heart, to everyone in the hospital, to everyone around the world in all kinds of suffering. Jesus draws the whole world to himself with a loving ear in a listening embrace.