The Cross is the ‘symbol’ of Christianity. We see it outside and inside our church buildings. People often wear a crucifix around their necks to show that they are Christian. You may have one somewhere in your house. The Cross of Christ is well known in the world. Hollywood movies about Christ’s Crucifixion have been made. His suffering is viewed as a noteworthy historical event: he was a prophet who suffered heroically for his socio-political involvement. And yet for many the Cross simply remains a ‘symbol’ or somewhat unique ‘historical event.’
In today’s Gospel reading (Luke 23:33-43) it is obvious that it is neither. The Cross is in fact a deeply personal thing, because it concerns the sinner! It is a death and life event for the sinful human being. Jesus draws the sinner onto the Cross and he or she cries out ‘Remember me!’ Jesus gives a word of promise ‘You will be with me in paradise.’ It is on the Cross that the sinner is put to death in order to receive the promise of new life. The Cross becomes the pattern for Christian living starting from your baptism: death to new life: the Old Adam/Eve is pushed down and the New Adam/Eve lifted up in faith. That is the ‘Way of the Cross’, the true Christian way.