Don’t Be Cross with Me | Opinion

Photo via Pixabay.

The picture we use to remind us of Harvey Milk is one of him smiling. The photo used to remind us of Matthew Shepherd is that of a beautiful, blond waif. We’re not asked to remember Harvey lying on the floor bleeding out, nor Matthew tied to a fence, beaten and left to die.

And yet, we’re reminded of the life of Jesus not by a smiling face, but by the cross on which he died. He transformed the world through three years of teaching love and died on the cross in three hours. He asked God to spare him. If I’m in an automobile accident, please don’t use a wrecked car to represent my 50 years of healing.

The cross is the only symbol of death used to represent any other religion. It hangs in the classroom and hospital unit of every Christian institution and on the high altar in every church. You find it at the end of the rosary and of gold chains. How come? Is the way Jesus died more significant than the guidance he gave us?

When we celebrate the lives and teachings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln, we don’t use the symbol of a gun to remember them. We use pictures of them smiling. The teachings of Jesus ought to be represented with a symbol of loving kindness, such as a lamb. I’m guided by the Sermon on the Mount, not by Mount Calvary.

We often see a public figure make the sign of the cross before or after they do something that Jesus would condemn. The crucifix, in movies, is used in exorcisms of the devil and to repel vampires. It’s also used by some church leaders to oppress LGBTQ people rather than embrace them. 

In some places in the U.S., gay Catholic groups are barred from using church property to say mass or to have a workshop. People in committed relationships are often denied communion and Christian burial. The reason given is that both would be an affront to Jesus. Yet, denying them such loving kindness is the affront. 

The U.S. Cemetery in Normandy is filled with 9,238 white marble crosses. I suspect that some of those who died in the invasion of France were atheists. Nevertheless, they are buried with the sign of Christian redemption. As the story goes, God the Father sent the Son to teach people how to pray and to get to heaven. The Church says he needed to die as a sacrificial lamb for the original sin of Adam and Eve eating an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. The cross is the symbol of that sacrifice.

It’s more likely today that Christian individuals have made arrangements to be cremated. That is Ray’s and my plan. Catholics can be cremated as long as the ashes are properly buried in a sacred cemetery. That’s not our plan. They’re better in the garden where God lives.


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