The hinge of history

Countries, businesses and organisations search for a logo to announce, in a simple sign, who they are. It could be a coat of arms, a traditional emblem or a modern eye-catcher. The fish eagle (Zimbabwe), the harp (Ireland) or two ellipses in the form of a cross (Toyota) are examples.


Mention of a cross brings to mind the Christian faith and the climax of our annual remembrance of it is about to begin. The shadow of the cross falls heavily over Holy Week. It is one of the simplest logos imaginable – an upright and a crossbar – and yet this sign is the hinge on which life hangs. In every situation, the door leading to life either opens for us or shuts. It depends on whether we choose the cross or avoid it.

The gospels make it dazzlingly clear from the outset – ‘this child is destined to be a sign that is opposed’ (Lk 2:34) – and throughout his life – ‘the Son of man is destined to be rejected’ (Mk 8:31) – that the cross is the thread running through the whole mission of Jesus. It is the yeast that gives his whole life – and ours – flavour. If I choose to forgive, I may find it a great struggle but I will discover a  deep freedom within me. I will be like a person who has let down a great burden they are carrying. Phew! That was heavy but now I have let it go.

It is simple! No, it certainly is not. But we have chosen the cross and it has set us free. The cross of Jesus is the hinge of history on which everything hangs. All the events, from the beginning of creation, either open the way for us or block it.

Edith Stein died, aged fifty, in a gas chamber in Auschwitz in 1942. Though brought up in a strict Jewish family, she was not religious. But she was a seeker and turned to philosophy for answers. Inspired by Edmund Husserl, she made huge progress and became a renowned philosopher in her turn. But she remained restless in her search. One evening, in a friend’s house, she came across the life of Teresa of Avila and read it throughout the night. Delighted, she knew she had found the treasure she sought and was baptised. She continued to teach but her heart drew her to a total self-giving and she entered the Carmelites. When the Nazis sought out the Jews to exterminate them, she was swept up into the darkness but in her deepest being she knew she was following Jesus to the cross and she rejoiced.

Palm Sunday         2 April 2023         Is 50:4-7      Ph 2:6-11     Mt 26:14ff

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