Cross with Carthusian monk JdeBeaumetz.jpgIn one respect the cross does have a terrible aspect
that we ought not to remove. To see that the purest of men, who was more than a
man, was executed in such a grisly way can make us frightened of ourselves. But
we also need to be frightened of ourselves and out of our self-complacency.

I think, Luther was right when he said that man must first be frightened of
himself so that he can then find the right way. However, the cross doesn’t stop
at being a horror; it is not merely a horror, because the one who looks down at
us from the cross
is not a failure, a desperate man, not one of the horrible
victims of humanity

For this crucified man says something different from
Spartacus and his failed adherents, because, after all, what looks down at us
from the cross is a goodness
that enables a new beginning in the midst of
life’s horror. The goodness of God himself looks on us, God who surrenders
himself into our hands, delivers himself to us, and bears the whole horror of
history with us.

Looked at more deeply this sign, which forces us to look at
the dangerousness of man and all his heinous deeds, at the same time makes us
look upon God, who is stronger, stronger in his weakness, and upon the fact
that we are loved by God.

It is in this sense a sign of forgiveness that also
brings hope
into the abysses of history. God is crucified and says to us that
this God who is apparently so weak is the God who incomprehensibly forgives us
and who in his seeming absence is stronger.

Pope Benedict XVI