José kisses his cross

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Stations of the cross, S. Saviour’s Church, Cardiff

Homily for Trinity 12, Matthew 16:21-27

‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, they must take up their cross’ – Jesus

José kisses his cross.

-José Luis Sánchez del Río, a young Mexican boy

with this crazy faith in the crucified one.

Which is a bit of a problem for the Mexican government of the 1920’s.

It wants to destroy the power of the Church. Why?

For all sorts of reasons – many shameful ones, yes,

but so much else is going on.

Parts of the 1920’s Mexican Church were corrupt, on the side of the landowners, the rich and the powerful against the hungry, the landless, and the poor.

There are times, through the ages, when Jesus says to Peter, to all Christians,  ‘get behind me Satan!  Do you really think this is what God wants?’

Cross in the dirt

Anyway, in the middle of all this brokenness, a group of government supporters grab hold of the young José and try to make him renounce his faith.  But he won’t do it. So they threaten him with death. and still he won’t don’t it.

They say, ‘right, we’re going to kill you.” So José says, ‘ok’. But right before they kill him, José kneels down,

draws the sign of the cross in the dirt, and kisses it.

José kisses his cross.

Why would anyone kiss a cross -embrace the crazy, open-armed way of Jesus?

Because people suffer.

You’ve noticed……

~but some people seem to sail through life,

and others are haunted by the most lonely shadow, by something that trips them up 20 times day.  And I don’t know why it’s that way, but the way of the cross is choosing to live our lives in solidarity with them, with those whose cross is heavier than we could ever imagine. By our words, by our deeds, by our choices, by our prayers, we say, ‘I want to be with you”.

– not because we’re the good and the virtuous, dispensing our charity, but because we too are frail and weighed down with ego, fears, frailty ~ our own cross. And we know that our healing is bound up with how we honour and treat those whom no one else sees, or notices, or cares about.

-Because the cross is God’s way of healing the world.

The cross means choosing to take the hit, and not pass it on; to suffer, without needing to retaliate or hate anyone else.

Evil works by transmission.

I’m hit, so I hit you, and it’s passed on and on until someone breaks the circuit, until someone says: ‘ok, I’m hit, and it hurts, but this is going no further, this is going out, it’s going down, with me’

There are beautiful ones who take the hurt, the hate, the anger out of circulation.

They break the circuit. On the cross, God takes the hit, and He gives back love. Always.

Dieu ne peut que donner son amour  – Taizé

We kiss the cross because we have this crazy faith

that says non-violent, unyielding Love

is the most powerful force in the world.

‘Yeah –yeah’ sneers the world….

General, Your Tank is a Powerful Vehicle
It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

General, your bomber is powerful.
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than an elephant.
But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.

General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.

Bertolt Brecht

Non-violent, suffering Love touches minds, hearts, imaginations;

It reaches places no weapon ever could

It can and will reach every hell, touch every death.

I kiss my cross.

Not because I’m brave and faithful like José

-God knows I’m not –

But because,

I know that the cross accepts me,

unconditionally, no matter what,

no matter how much I screw up,

it holds me,

It’s like the ocean that refuses no river,

So,

the way of the cross is something

I’ll always, always come back to and embrace,

for all these reasons

and many more.

Just like José.

Just like you.

‘God can only give love’   -it’s the only language He knows’ (Rowan Williams).

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