Reflecting on the Cross


In Judaism, the great celebration of the year is the historical coming out of Egypt.

Jewish friends describe this as a parable.

Egypt represents imprisonment in something that is unhealthy, something that restricts the freedom of God’s people.

God leads his people out of Egypt.

At first the enemy will pursue people. This is represented by Paraoh’s soldiers.

But God intervenes in the story of the parting of the Red Sea.

The enemy is drowned.

There is a time trial in the desert until the people eventually come to wholeness – described as the promised land.

This is the celebration of Hanukkah.

Christianity also has a celebration that has its roots in Judaism.

It is something that all churches have in common, the Easter journey of Christ Jesus’ death and Resurrection.

It is not only a historic event but also a deeply personal journey for every Christian.

As Catholics we experience it as a journey of the heart.

When I was a 14 year old in a small Presbyterian choir, I practised the words and music of the Bach Chorale “Oh Sacred Head sore wounded, with grief and pain laid down…”

It was a solemn and beautiful song, and I enjoyed singing it with a group of adults.

However, in the context of a Good Friday service, that song became unbearably sad. It filled me with grief. L started to cry, and I ran out of the church.

Tears gave way to embarrassment, and someone came out to rescue me; but that memory comes to the surface every Easter.

We all feel the experience of solemn grief in the Good Friday service, and we rejoice in the light in of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

This is ingrained in us.

If we make a movement from heart to head, we are reminded that sacrifice of animals was the Jewish way of atonement for sin. I guess that’d why we called Jesus “the Lamb of God.”

We acknowledge the sacrifice for sin, but at the same time know that something else is happening.

Jesus not only dies for us, he is resurrected for us

Death and resurrection are like two sides of one coin.

How do we see this great gift?

In my understanding, Jesus demonstrated that what is resurrected is greater than what has died.

This Easter I am looking at all the little “Crucifixions” in my life. We all have that list. For a while we feel dead, but then resurrection comes and with resurrection a feeling of new growth.

I can see all the times I’ve got stuck in the tomb through anger, grief, self-pity. But there have always been good friends who have helped me out of self- imprisonment.

I find it interesting that both Hannukah and Easter are about redemption and spiritual growth.

While Jesus would have grown up with the Jewish story of the Exodus from Egypt, it is the story of his life and death and resurrection that is His gift to us.

And what a gift!

Easter is so big in meaning, it can’t be measured

  • Joy Cowley is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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