We spoke a little of the dread which must accompany the readings for this week as we accompany Christ on his way to the Cross, or rather, or just as well, as we put it yesterday, as Christ accompanies us, for what this whole journey is saying; that is the journey of God with humanity; that is the journey of the Son of God with us as Son of Man, as human just like us in all things but sin, is that this God who is with us is with us all the way through suffering and dishonour and the sin of an undeserved death, and yet at no time has surrendered his divinity and power to save. This is the mystery of the incarnation crystallised or made most apparent today in the mystery of the Cross or, as Karl Rahner might say, we can apply the irreducibility of the ‘and’ between God and man, which sums up the incarnation, to the moment of the Cross where, especially in John’s gospel, Jesus’s apparent death and defeat is also the moment of glory – he dies and rises at one and the same time.
Can we put all that theological speak in another more accessible way?
Yes, and John himself does this by complementing, or perhaps correcting, his emphasis in today’s gospel on ‘truth’ by his emphasis in his first letter on God as love. Jesus is on the Cross because he loves us. God is on the Cross because God loves us. So we can know that when we take up our crosses – and so often falsely imagine them as a punishment for sin – God is not standing on the sidelines cheering us on or jeering at us in a tone of condemnation, but is there with us, under that self-same cross lifting us up also to glory.