The theme offered by Vie Liturgique magazine for the fourth Sunday of Lent is Standing before the cross, standing before love. We sometimes forget that the cross and love are intimately linked in salvation history. Because Jesus freely agreed to go to the cross, we receive Salvation. Why did he accept? He loved God with a love which surpasses all love.
Since we are saved, there are people who say that it is useless to focus on the cross. Why discuss suffering when Christ is risen? There are others whose primary focus is on the suffering Christ, who experience our time on earth as a long purgatory before eternal life. Yet, both the cross and the resurrection nourish our faith. It is very simple - for Christ to be raised from the dead, he had to agree to go through a path of suffering. If we want to erase this suffering, we take away all the power of love that his resurrection has brought forth in our world.
We have all experienced hardships that have made us grow, which have revealed to us an inner strength that we would never have known existed. We change through the sorrows and joys of our lives. We can recognize that through paths which we may not have chose, new life opens up before us. This allows us to grow as human beings and as sons and daughters of God.
If this is so with our history, how could it be otherwise with this great history of God with his people? The cross and love cannot be considered without one another. It would be denying the deep love that unites the Father and the Son. That to respond to the love of his Father, Jesus offered himself consciously and lovingly in an abyss of suffering so that we may have life - life in God.