We proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called,
Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Cor 1: 23-25
Seven years ago, one of the first things I noticed upon arriving at the Newman Center was a “make-shift” cross that had been assembled using extra wood from the deck that had been installed in the 1980’s at the top of the 30 + steps from the street to the porch. While trying to be sensitive and appreciative of those who were a part of the Newman Center over the years to whom that cross might have particular meaning for – there was something about that “old wooden cross” that just seemed lacking to me. Not because it was worn down and “weathered.” Not because it wasn’t “artistic,” but because it’s too general, too vague or open to one’s own interpretation. An empty, simple cross can be a symbol of Christ, or of Christians. It can be a reminder that as a Christian we are to ‘carry our own crosses.’ It can be a symbol of healing (like the “Red Cross”). All of those things are true and important to reflect on, but this cross was lacking.
Because our whole purpose for being here, the Newman Catholic Center is to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ for all humanity – and in a particular way to the members of the Montclair State University community. That’s what Newman Catholic is all about: Jesus Christ and His love for Humanity. And there is simply no more clear expression of this truth being most perfectly, most lavishly, demonstrated then when Jesus died on the cross for each and everyone of us. Not for ‘humanity’ in a general term – but for you, for me, for each and every one of us.
That’s why the crucifix (rather than the empty cross) is such an integral part of the Catholic identity. We are challenged to see our Lord and Savior at his most selfless moment – we are confronted by our sins, our selfishness (which united with the sins of all humanity from Adam and Eve to today) caused this act to happen – and we are comforted by the love and strength of God knowing that by this act we are forgiven – we are saved from our sins.
It’s bothered me not to have a better image than that little old cross that was falling apart, but it was something that I told myself “we have to live with for now.”
Today was an exciting day here at the Newman Catholic Center. Our beautifully hand-crafted statue of Christ crucified was assembled and installed in front of the building. Now as students enter MSU’s campus, walking up all these stairs on our property, my hope is that they recognize how special this place is. As they engage in studies during this significant time in their lives where they question who they are, what they want to do or become – that they too will be challenged, confronted and comforted by the image of Christ Crucified. And come to meet the living Jesus Christ and experience His love for them personally in all that we say and do here at Newman Catholic.
My sincere gratitude to all those who generously donated to our Summer Appeal to make this possible. We’re still short of our ‘summer goal’ and welcome your financial assistance. You can donate by going to www.MSUNEWMAN.com –