More than assent

Daily Reading, April 30

It is essential to remember that for a Christian “the word of the Cross” is nothing theoretical, but a stark and existential union with Christ in his death in order to share in his resurrection. To fully “hear” and “receive” the word of the Cross means much more than simple assent to the dogmatic propositions that Christ died for our sins. It means to be “nailed to the Cross with Christ,” so that the ego-self is no longer the principle of our deepest actions, which now proceed from Christ living in us: “I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:19-20). To receive the word of the Cross means the acceptance of a complete self-emptying, a kenosis, in union with the self-emptying of Christ “obedient unto death” (Phil. 2:5-11). It is essential to true Christianity that this experience of the Cross and of self-emptying be central in the life of the Christian so that he may fully receive the Holy Spirit and know (again by experience) all the riches of God in and through Christ.

From Zen and the Birds of Appetite by Thomas Merton, quoted in Wisdom of the Cloister, edited by John Skinner (Image Books, 1999).

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