Let the beauty of the Cross shine through Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Thursday, Apr. 05, 2012 -- 12:00 AM
Under the Gospel Book by Bishop Robert C. Morlino
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

As you read this week’s column you may be either in the heart of Christ’s Passion or the Joy of His Resurrection. Thus, I’d like to reflect upon the paradox that is the beauty of the Cross, and the paradox that is our own tendency to turn against God’s plan for us, despite the fact that His plan is for our happiness and eternal life.

As the trigger that set off Christ’s journey to His suffering and death, you’ll recall that, “some Greeks came,” to the Apostle Philip, saying, “we would like to see Jesus.” Upon hearing this, Jesus immediately replies, “the hour has come,” and He heads for Jerusalem, and for death. Clearly the coming of these Greeks has some real significance in the plan of our salvation.

These “Greeks” certainly represent all Gentiles, but why “Greeks”? Surely they were people who must have been well acquainted with the Greek cultural tradition, steeped in philosophy, people with some respect for reason. These Greeks though, were making their way to Jerusalem, making what was surely quite a long trip. Whatever prompted them to journey so far had to be really important to them.

‘We would like to see Jesus’

And what do they say? Simply, straightforwardly, they state, “We would like to see Jesus.” They didn’t beat around the bush and say, “ . . . we happen to be in this part of the world . . . and some people are talking about Jesus . . . and we’re kind of curious . . .” They didn’t want to see Jesus out of kind of a morbid curiosity, like Herod. “We would like to see Jesus,” they say. It couldn’t be more simple or straightforward than that.

Why is it that they wanted to see Jesus? What was moving their hearts? They are anticipating what will come next, that which occurs just a few moments later in John’s Gospel (Jn 12:32) when Jesus says, “when I am lifted up (on the Cross), I will draw everyone to myself.”

Jesus crucified was going to attract everyone to Himself and somehow, in God’s mysterious plan, these Greeks were blessed with the favor of getting a head start. “We want to see Jesus . . . we want to see the one who will draw everyone to Himself.” And Jesus said, “when I am lifted up — when I am crucified — I will draw all to myself.” The crucified Lord draws, the crucified Lord attracts, the crucified Lord is beautiful, for He is God, He is beauty, and beauty attracts and beauty draws.

The law of nature, the natural law

There is a truth in the Cross that cannot be denied. “The days are coming,” God said through His prophet, Jeremiah, “when I will make a new Covenant (offering His very Son)

. . . and I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:31-34). So that, “no longer will they need to teach others how to know God,” God says, “I will write that law in their hearts.”

That law is what we call the law of nature, the natural law, or (better, today) the language of creation; it’s a law written in our hearts so that we are drawn to God. And anyone who is drawn to God is ultimately drawn to Christ crucified. That’s where the journey leads.

Reason itself teaches us that God exists — no one needs to teach us that. It is part of the law inscribed in our hearts. Once we know that God exists, in looking for God, we are looking for Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And much more importantly, once we start looking for Jesus Christ, we begin to realize that He’s always been looking for us.

There are other aspects of that law, written in the heart, knowable by reason alone: that nothing on this earth surpasses the greatness and the dignity of a human person/that human life is sacred from conception until natural death; that all God’s creation is good and deserving of our stewardship; that marriage is between one man, one woman, for one lifetime, with openness to children; and so on. These are laws of human nature, the language of creation inscribed in the hearts of every man and woman.

That language is not a “Catholic thing” particularly. It’s inscribed in the heart of every man and woman, so that every man and woman has no need to be taught about this language of creation.

The law is written in people’s hearts

“I will write that law in their hearts,” God says. The law is written in our hearts and is more deeply embedded in us than our own ideas. But how could it be that the law is so inherent that nobody needs to teach us? When you try to teach such things in our culture, not only don’t people see that the law is already in their hearts, but they reject it outright. That’s why there’s so much unhappiness and violence in our society, because so many human beings refuse to be what God made them to be.

They refuse to speak the language of creation in their lives. They don’t want the law that He wrote on their hearts, but they can’t escape it, for it is there. If they reject the law and try to do the opposite, there can be no happiness ultimately. That’s why, whatever you’d want to call our society and our culture today, nobody could reasonably call it a happy culture. If you look around the world, you see the scourge of war and terrorism and violence. It’s not a happy world, because the top item on the agenda is to forget God and to exclude Him from our public life.

Imagine how far we’ve come from the words of the prophet, speaking of a law that no one needs to be taught. Now, people refuse to be taught about it. Not only don’t they know it, by reflecting on their selves and their reason, they refuse to know it and choose a completely different course. And so, the Greeks who were looking for Jesus are harder to find these days, but still people are drawn, and the journey is the same — to be attracted by the beauty of God, which ultimately means the beauty of the saving event of Christ crucified.

Showing God’s beauty, hope, and love

So, where does that leave us? That leaves us with a mission on behalf of the beauty of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And that mission perfectly coincides with Holy Week and Easter. For we have here the Cross in all of its shame, but most importantly, in all of its beauty, because everything of God is beautiful and beauty attracts — but the Cross especially, for it is the sign of God, the law giver, who knows us and who can be known by us, letting Himself be seen and offering Himself, so that we might understand the language of creation, the law written on our hearts, and be saved. Are you and I conformed enough to the Cross of Jesus in our life that it shows forth the beauty of God?

Lent is now ended, but the time for conversion of our hearts is always today. At Easter we proclaim “Christ is Risen,” and yet still He is reaching out from the Cross, to bring all people together in Him.

Human nature, the language of creation, turned against itself can lead nowhere except ultimate destruction. God wants to send a message of beauty and hope through your life, through your union with and your love for the beauty of the Cross. Let the beauty of the Cross shine forth, so that the Christ who is lifted up, can draw all people to Himself, through you. Let our Easter symbol remain the beautiful Cross, which speaks of God’s love and God’s law.

Thank you for reading this! God bless you all! Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!