The Wisdom of the Cross

by Edith Stein

The gates of life open to believers in the Crucified

Christ put on the yoke of the Law, fulfilling the Law’s commands and dying for the Law and through the Law. By this he freed those who desire to receive life through him; but they cannot receive that life unless they themselves offer their own lives. For whoever is baptized into Christ Jesus is baptized into his death. They are immersed in his life so that they become like parts of his own body and, like the parts of his body, suffer with him and die. This life will come in its full abundance on the day of glory; but even now, still in the flesh, we can be part of it if we believe: if we believe Christ to have died for us in order to confer life on us. By that faith we are united to him as the body is united to the head; that faith opens to us the wellsprings of his life. Thus faith in the Crucified – living faith, united with devoted love – is for us the doorway to life and the beginning of the glory that is to come. Thus the Cross is our only boast: As for me, the only thing I can boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.

Whoever chooses Christ is dead to the world and the world is dead to him. He bears the wounds of Christ in his body, he is weak and despised by men, but his cause is strong because the strength of God is made perfect in weakness. Knowing this, the disciple of Christ does not merely accept the Cross that has been laid upon him, but he himself crucifies his own self: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with all its passions and desires. They have fought a hard battle against their nature, so that the life of sin should die within them and the life of the Spirit be given room to flourish. That battle demands the greatest fortitude. But the Cross is not the end: it is lifted up and shows us the way to heaven. It is not merely a sign, but Christ’s undefeated weapon: it is the shepherd’s sling with which the divine David battles the evil Goliath. With it, Christ knocks loudly at the door of heaven and opens it. When these things come to pass the light of God will shine out and all who follow the Crucified will be filled with it.