The law of the Church, in multiple places but most immediately in the General Instruction at the front of the Roman Missal, says there’s always to be a crucifix on clear display by the altar,
An image of “Christ crucified” (n.308) that is “clearly visible to the assembled congregation” (c.f. GIRM 117, 122, 306).
Because the sacrifice on the altar is the sacrifice on the cross.
the crucifix in a church means much more than, dare I say, “just” its relationship to the altar,
and our first reading from Hebrews gets to the heart of it in speaking about how the Son “knows human weakness”.
The last four years, before I came here,
I was stationed in a church that didn’t have a crucifix,
with a congregation that had lived its entire existence never knowing a crucifix.
I can remember having a public meeting explaining plans to install a crucifix,
I can remember things the people said.
One said, “I don’t want a dead man hanging there”.
Another sad, “When you see him like that, it just makes you sad”.
Such words are words I’m afraid, that aren’t seeing with faith.
And, it is with faith in what the crucifix portrays
that we revolutionise how we think God interacts with us and with the world.
Is He a distant God?
Is a disconnected God?
On the Cross, as Hebrews tells us,
we see the Son, sharing our weakness.
God is close
God is among us
In the everything when it FEELS like He is absent,
the Cross shows us that He is not.
Do you feel lonely and isolated and fed up with the isolation of quarantine?
He knew loneliness and isolation in His last night in earth when they locked Him in a cell.
Do you feel tired and fed up?
He knew tiredness,
Whatever you feel of human weakness:
He knew mourning, He knew “silent tears”, He knew and knows it all…
All this tell us about God.
And it is a revolution.
And, sadly, there is a comfortable middle class false God that tries to hide from suffering, that does not like like cross,
But, the Cross, and the letter to the Hebrews,
it also tells us about the priesthood,
and about your vocation to the priesthood.
Pope Francis speaks about “accompaniment”,
that the priest is to accompany his people,
that the priest is to smell of the sheep.
You are weak and human,
and your future parishioners need to know that you FEEL weakness WITH them.
You sin, and go to confession,
and your future parishioners need to know that you FEEL this WITH them.
All Christians need to see themselves on the Cross.
Need to learn to take up their own cross WITH Him
Need to learn to hang there with Him.
Needs to learn a devotion to the crucifix that sees himself there.
So that he can learn, even more,
“to sympathise with those… in weakness”.