My favorite comics character when I was growing up was Superman. He had tremendous strength and he was invincible, except when it came to kryptonite. I could not get my hands on enough Superman comic books to read and enjoy. When my sons were growing up I tried to pass on this pleasure to my sons, who unfortunately went for Batman instead. What? Mere human Batman? He gets hurt, he is vulnerable. And Martin, at ten years of age, explained it all to me: “What’s the fun in being a hero if you can’t lose?”
I am now thinking, do I look at Christ as someone like Superman – all mighty and invincible, a sure winner in the end no matter what happens for now? That in spite of all the pain and sorrow, he will always win in the end? And my faith in this Jesus somehow becomes a crutch, a security blanket of sorts? That if I threw my lot with him, I will eventually come out a winner? That all the difficulties are just mere illusions since perfect joy will surely come to me in the end? All the disappointments and the struggling is just make-believe since I already know the outcome of my story? That if I believed in him, I could just say “I’ve let go, the need to know why Cause You know better than I”?
I could be treading dangerous grounds here. There were a number of heresies in the past, condemned by the Church, that taught Christ only appeared to be human or that he was not fully human or that he was not truly God. Indeed, the cross is a sign of contradiction. If God is almighty and all-knowing, if he is all-good and loving unconditionally, why did it all come to this? Isn’t there a simpler and easier way to accomplish what God wants of us? After all, he is God isn’t he? The cross raises more questions for me than provide me with answers. Looking at Christ on the cross, I feel the emptiness of his “Why have you abandoned me?”. And I thirst for quick and easy answers. But even in the midst of all these questions and uncertainties, there are mothers to be looked after, sons to be raised, people to be forgiven and relate to, the needy to be served and saved.
Believing in the man on the cross has not made life easy for me. But it has made me want to do my share in making life easy and meaningful for others. It has made more patient and understanding of people and events. I think I have become more loving and humbler. I do feel sadness and sorrow quite regularly. I know these are part of being human. I do not wish for them to vanish as I look at this man on the cross and just stay with him. Will I also rise like him? I may not be so absolutely certain but I love it that he has taught me how to love.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
John 12: 23-33