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A Cross Too Sweet

by Rev. Nicholas Cirillo

In the retail world, the Easter season begins on or around the second Sunday of Lent. It is then that all of the bulbs start blooming and all of the marshmallow chickadees magically appear. The chocolate bunnies are all lined up with baskets full of creamy Easter eggs, ready to bring delight to all who are still suffering under the burden of Lenten sacrifice. As I walked through "retail land," and perused all of the wonderful confectionery sights, I came upon one item which struck me because of its inherent contradiction. It was a cross of pure chocolate, sweetly adorned with candy lilies and a little ribbon banner that announced the resurrection. And I thought to myself, this is just what Christianity needs, a cross which goes down without any sorrow, and certainly without any pain.

The joy of Easter will soon dawn, and all of the crosses that we have borne in this season of Lent will not simply turn to chocolate for us to enjoy. Sadly, they will remain with us to weigh us down and challenge us to rise above our own weakness. What makes Easter so truly marvelous is that it is a celebration of transformation, and it is precisely that transformation that gives us the strength to go on carrying.

Jesus Christ labored under the weight of his human needs, and he struggled with hunger and thirst, temptation and desolation. Everything that makes our lives on earth so complicated, he understood. And when he entered his final agony, he brought all of the struggles with him, and more, because he took on himself the burdens of us all. Whatever it is that weighs us down and keeps us from reaching up to the Lord who beckons us, it has already been shouldered by the same Lord who reaches down to save. Every problem we consider insurmountable has already been overcome.

On that Easter morning, it wasnít just an empty tomb that stirred the spirits of those who believed. They knew that its occupant hadnít simply been misplaced, but had risen above even the power of death that seemed to hold him captive. Remember, no one claimed to see the ghost of Jesus, or the spirit of Jesus who was still dead. They saw and touched the Lord who was alive again in the flesh. He had not merely come back from the dead, but he had conquered it and destroyed it forever.

The heart of the modern world needs so much to hear the message of Easter for it is the message of triumph. As a species, many of us have abandoned hope and lost the vision that only the Resurrection can proclaim. The burdens of this life can never rob it of the beauty that the creator has bestowed upon it and the struggles connected to being human should never make us despair, as if there can be no vindication. Most people make the biggest fuss over Christmas, because it celebrates the closeness of Christ to his people. But the power of Easter reveals to us so much more by giving us hope that no matter what pains we may face in this valley of tears, they can be carried and overcome.

Chocolate crosses are nice, but in the end they befit chocolate saviors. Although they may be sweet on the tongue, they leave us hollow within, always hungering for more. Look to the dawning of Easter with hope - hope that the burdens of life that you must carry can be overcome by the Savior who has triumphed over death. May you share the confidence that comes from knowing that Christ has been victorious, and may you savor the comfort that comes from his triumph long after the chocolate is all gone.

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