Cross Is Not Just for Believers, Says Preacher

Asks What Christians Can Offer Those Without Faith

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2011 ( The mystery of the redemption extends beyond our faith in it; the cross is not just for believers but for everyone, since Christ died for all.

These reflections were offered today by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, in his homily during the celebration of the Passion of the Lord.

Benedict XVI celebrated the liturgy, held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“The cross is not only God’s judgement on the world and its wisdom; it is more than the revelation and condemnation of sin,” the preacher said. “It is not God’s ‘no’ to the world, it is the ‘yes’ God speaks to the world from the depths of his love,” the Capuchin said.

Yet, Father Cantalamessa asked, how can we speak of God’s love when there are so many tragedies and so much suffering in the world?

God himself has given the answer, he proposed: “The One whom we contemplate on the cross is God ‘in person.’ Yes, he is also the man Jesus of Nazareth, but that man is one person with the Son of the Eternal Father. […]

“What do you do to reassure someone that a particular drink contains no poison? You drink it yourself first, in front of him. This is what God has done for humanity: he has drunk the bitter cup of the passion. So, human suffering cannot be a poisoned chalice, it must be more than negativity, loss, absurdity, if God himself has chosen to savor it.

“At the bottom of the chalice, there must be a pearl. We know the name of that pearl: resurrection!”

Only God

And the cross is not just for Christians, Father Cantalamessa continued. “There is in the mystery of redemption an objective and a subjective aspect. There is the fact in itself, and then awareness of the fact and our faith-response to it. The first extends beyond the second. ‘The Holy Spirit – says a text of Vatican II – offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery.'”

We believers can offer those who have no faith our own certainty that “there is a ransom for suffering,” he said, but we can also “suffer with those who suffer, weep with those who weep.”

The Capuchin reflected that globalization has the positive effect of making the “suffering of one people” become “the suffering of all,” as it “arouses the solidarity of all.”

“It gives us the chance to discover that we are one single human family, joined together for good or ill,” he said. “It helps us overcome all barriers of race, color or creed.”

Reflecting on the two earthquakes associated with the Paschal Mystery — the earthquake at the moment when Christ died (Matthew 27:54), and the one when he rose (Matthew 28:2) — Father Cantalamessa said: “Every earthquake that brings death will always be followed by an earthquake of resurrection and life. Someone once said: ‘Only a god can save us now.’ […] We have the sure and certain guarantee that he will do exactly that, because ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son.'”

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