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The sign of the Cross

30 May 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

The Cross is simply a mark, figure, or object formed by two intersecting lines or pieces of wood, iron, or other materials.the-cross It was on a Cross formed of wood that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified; his crucifixion changed the meaning of the Cross.

Catholics are known for always making the sign of the Cross; in fact, we begin and end every prayer with it. It is our identity, and it is our faith.

Though it is not explicitly stated in the bible what exactly the Cross was used for before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, or even if it existed before the crucifixion, we know that it became a different thing for different people. For the Jews, it became a stumbling block, foolishness to the Gentiles, and believers from every culture, color, and race, it means something different: wisdom, power, hope, salvation, etc. (1Cor. 1:23-24). The Cross certainly became a stumbling block, foolishness, and power after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Therefore, if the Cross became these things after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, then what was it before the crucifixion? Did it even exist?

I do not think that the Roman soldiers just invented the Cross on Good Friday simply for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The Cross must have been in existence before Good Friday for a different purpose or even for the same crucifixion. Though the bible is silent about it, extra-biblical sources tend to support the pre-existence of the Cross for various purposes. Whatever the Cross stood for before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ does not matter to me now; what matters is what the Cross has become for me: power, victory, life, etc.

I will quickly use this opportunity to differentiate between a Cross and a Crucifix even though they are not opposed to each other. A Cross is simply as we defined it above, while the Crucifix is a Cross with the image of Jesus nailed to it.

sign of the crossSome people see the Cross as a sign of contradiction, very true. Jesus himself was seen as a sign of contradiction (Lk.2:34). The Cross is indeed a sign of contradiction because it is an instrument of death, yet we have eternal life through it. It is a sign of defeat, yet it brings victory, it is a sign of shame, yet it brings joy. So, we are not ashamed of the Cross. The Catholic Church encourages her children to boldly make the Cross’s sign anywhere and anytime without shame or fear. It is our identity as Catholics, and every Christian should make it his or her identity. It is the wood upon which the Saviour hung. We proudly display this wonderful instrument of salvation in our homes, cars, offices, parishes, and everywhere we deem fit. We are proud of it!