jonmsweeney

A Messy God

In Catholic imagination, crucifix instead of cross, Spiritual practice on April 5, 2009 at 12:29 am

As I said the other day, I prefer a crucifix to a cross.

            Catholic journalist David Warren recently advised fellow Catholic converts, candidly but seriously, to “Get a crucifix, the kind ‘with the little man on it.’ The kind that shows Him suffering; the kind that strikes you as rather tasteless at first, as if it might drip on your shoe. There is something peculiarly Catholic about getting a crucifix even before you go out to buy a Catholic edition of the Bible. Kneel. Cross yourself.”

I love the last part most of all: “There is something peculiarly Catholic about getting a crucifix even before you go out to buy a Catholic edition of the Bible.” Heart before head. Practice before theory. The first is always the second’s best tutor.

An incarnate God is by definition, messy. Mine is no Gnostic Christ, either, standing aloof and making quixotic statements. Jesus occasionally did those things, I guess, but that’s not the meaning of Jesus. Jesus was mixed up with his friends as well as his enemies, their sorrow and pain, and he bled, sweat and cried. He drew in the dirt with his finger; prostitutes wiped his filthy feet with their hair; and he embraced the ugly and undesirable. Such a messy, stirred up God has lots of connections to our material world. Is it any wonder that a God who takes on our flesh—pimples, fluids and all—should be remembered in body?

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  1. My comment is Jesus is not on that cross. HE IS RIsen! The crucifix is only applicable on Good Friday.

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