The Two Faces of the Cross

Two quotes from “The two faces of the Cross” by Brother John of Taize. The whole text is available for download at

The way we articulate the two moments of what is called the paschal mystery has incalculable consequences for Christian life. For centuries, notably in the West, the resurrection was downplayed with respect to the passion of Christ, and this tended to foster a pessimistic outlook, centred on suffering, regarding life on earth. If today the accent has fortunately shifted towards the primacy of the resurrection in the piety of the faithful, that outlook is not without its drawbacks either. It runs the risk of minimising the effects of evil in human life, of leaping a bit too quickly to the other bank of a rediscovered happiness, and consequently of cutting oneself off from all who are forced to deal with inexplicable suffering or who are caught up in the anguish of an apparently absurd existence. Can we find strength and inspiration in the joyful news of the resurrection without taking from the cross its full measure of seriousness?

And then …

Such an act of solidarity [Jesus death on the cross], by which the Innocent One identifies with the guilty, immediately does away with all the walls we erect between individuals and groups to put ourselves in the right “If others are bad, then obviously I am good” The cross puts an end to the human divisions of race and religion, and even of behaviour, to present us all to God together, prodigal sons and daughters who are nonetheless his beloved children. Looked at from the vantage point of the cross, all human pretensions are unmasked.

This solidarity that overcomes differences and creates unity before God is shown at the same time to be the authentic response to evil. By accepting to give his life for the executioners, Jesus proclaims a truth so simple that we constantly disregard it: you cannot eliminate evil by using the same weapons. Can it not be said that the history of our race, from war to war and from oppression to oppression, is a tale of how we forget this basic truth?


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