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Advent: How the Cross Humanizes Us

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23

What must we do to remain human? As I mentioned in my last post, I tend to drift toward superhumanism or subhumanism, so this question, what must I do to remain human, is my gospel work right now.

How easily I become dehumanized. The demands of life, of children, of marriage, of two jobs (and a wife with two jobs) quickly lead me away from myself in a way that leaves me either overly self sufficient or deeply insecure, either essential to the survival of others or completely unnecessary, either unable to do a damn thing right or bordering on omnipotent.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Taking up my cross has always stood as a metaphor for killing my humanness and becoming spiritual again, like Jesus. However, in Advent I wonder if the cross actually makes me more human. Maybe the cross is less about sacrifice and more about solidarity – the solidarity that Christ himself took on to fully unite and identify with humanity.

Somehow in the upside down kingdom of God the cross of Christ heals our dehumanized selves. The parts of us we hide repress and deny are brought back together through this discipline of dying, and somehow when we take up our cross it takes us up and puts us back together.

Jesus asks us only verses later, what good is it if you gain (or lose) the whole world but forfeit your own soul?

I feel taking up our cross my be the most human thing we can do. The cross breaks down the divide between who we think we are and who we actually are. The cross teaches us to own our own projections, that our resentments and hatreds are much more about us than about them.

The cross sobers us of shame, the root system of superhumanism and subhumanism, which we project onto ourselves and others. The cross diagnoses how it is we’ve gained the world and lost ourselves, and the continual work of taking it up dissipates the fog shrouding our humanity and the humanity of our brothers and sisters.

To be fully human is not to exclude our spiritual nature. To be fully human is actually to be brought back together in all the ways sin has torn us apart. The cross makes us fully human by putting to death all of which is not human, and because we live in a world which has strayed far from its humanity we must take it up as much as we need. The cross is our prayer of no cessation and when we come to it we never do so alone. Emmanuel, the crucified God-with-us, is there ready to receive and restore us and breath into us again the breath of life, which made us human in the first place.

Being broken so I can be put back together, being wounded so I can heal, being crucified so I can be raised to newness of life – this is what we must do to continually discover Emmanuel who will teach us how to live more fully human.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.