(The Crosier) tries to follow Christ in his Paschal Mystery (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).
The clearest and most disturbing revelation of the Cross is that goodness is reborn in the world through suffering. The Scriptures announce this dynamic in Genesis 3:15. Here, for the first time, we hear the Good News that good triumphs over evil, but at a great price: I will put a struggle between you (the serpent, symbol of evil) and the woman (symbol of life), between her descendants and yours. He will crush your head (humanity will be victorious over the forces of evil) and you (the serpent) will lie in wait for his heel (the tragic snake bite to the heel of the victor will cause his death). This is the image of a man walking vulnerably in his bare feet, encountering a deadly serpent and killing it at the cost of his own life. This is the image of Christ crucified, the Victim-Savior. It is the biblical affirmation that goodness in the world is reborn through suffering. To embrace the Paschal Mystery means to participate in the same dynamic. The Christian is a person ready to suffer at the hands of evil so that others may live. The Christian has the same sacrificial love as Christ, which allowed him to endure even to death the attack of the forces of evil so that others could be delivered. Goodness is always born in the world by suffering, life always comes through death, the Cross is always the cost of Resurrection. Scripture teaches us that this is the way of God. There is no other path to the restoration of goodness in our world.
The wife of the sorcerer does not leave him when he is chased from the village. (Nande)
Hail, glorious crown! Most beautiful than jewels or gold, surpassing the crowns which are the stars! (Proper liturgy of the Crosiers, Friday before Lent).
To receive a crown is to be designated the center of power for the well-being of the kingdom. The jeweled crown is symbolic of the importance of the monarch, the extent of royal power and the vastness of resources for the royal task. Jesus’ crown of thorns wanted to manifest himself as Savior of the world. The crown of thorns on his head was the best proclamation of his rank and the efficacious means for his mission. In allowing the thorns to be placed on his head, Jesus accepted his central place in the midst of all humanity, which lives with the insupportable sting of the consequences of sin. Innocent brother to sinners, he identified one hundred percent with them, letting fall on his own head their sins. The love of Jesus that supports this stinging pain lightens it for the time being and finally makes it disappear. His true power is shown by the fact that all the thorns of life are transformed into engines of this final liberation. By taking on the crown of thorns as participation in the Passion of Jesus, the people of the Kingdom end up wearing the Crown of jewels.
They will see you as a chief if your words and actions are those of a worker. (Mongo)
Christian penance, which we see above all in the joyful acceptance of the burdens of our life and work together, is a means to ever-greater Christian freedom and the purifying of our relations to persons and things (Const. 19.4).
The penitential acts of Christians have two objectives. Because of sin, personal and communal life are sometimes seriously disturbed. Conversion, which demands a decision to avoid sin, also requires reparation of the damage done by past sins to others. That is why acts of penance should address the effects of sin in one’s own and others’ lives. Egotism, which needs to be identified concretely by a person, is repaired by acts of self-denial, equally concrete. Thus, the person and his or her social context are renewed. Moreover, acts of penance should help the person avoid sin in the future. The lack of discipline in the past that offended others is avoided in the future by efforts at vigilance. The person protects future personal integrity and social order by a careful and well-defined surveillance. Indeed, penitential acts of reparation and prevention should be as personal as the sins committed.
Instead of fretting about the place where you fell, fret about the place where you tripped. (Mali)
(The Crosier) is patient in conflict; he pardons and forgets the offenses against him (Profile of the Congolese Crosier).
He lived without resentment at the treason of a friend. He was arrested without resisting. He bore false accusations publicly in silence. He was humiliated in front of civil authorities without protesting. He suffered the indignity of mockery, spitting, slapping, whipping. He accepted the sentence of death without making counter charges. He fell three times to the cheers of passersby. He was disrobed in front of spectators without losing his composure. He endured the laughter of his persecutors in his final moments without cursing. To the contrary, he excused and pardoned them. This was the greatness of spirit of Christ in his last agony, the one who could have legitimately called on legions of angels to avenge himself. Rather, he abandoned himself to the One to whom alone vengeance belonged. In the face of the extent of Christ’s unmerited sufferings, how petty our complaints seem in the little annoyances of daily life. It is as though we had more reason than Christ to defend ourselves. Instead of showing in these irritations a greatness of spirit like he did, we often allow them to diminish our nobility. That is to our great embarrassment—and his as well.
The royal beard does not sway in the wind. (Shi)
. . . you yielded only bitterness; when I was thirsty you gave me vinegar to drink (Reproaches, Good Friday).
There are people in our world who cannot support life without sedatives. There are people who escape responsibility in pleasure. Others flee their problems by alcohol or drug abuse. There are people sick in body or spirit who take painkillers to survive their suffering, not to mention those who look to commit suicide. The means of evasion, legitimate or not, are numerous and the justification of their use is often easy. Rare is the person who can face seriously debilitating obstacles without a crutch. But Jesus was the exception. His clear head and pure heart were threatened by outrageous sin and its devastating consequences. He met pathetic victims of evil living in the world. He himself became victim of evil forces that attacked his life at every level. He knew excruciating physical pain that would normally immobilize the heart and kill the spirit. Never did he lose his determination to confront them in full awareness by love. Why would we be surprised to see him refuse the sponge of vinegar in the cross?
When God gives hard bread, God gives solid teeth. (African proverb)