Beneath the cross
It is 5 a.m. An ambulance is standing outside the entrance to the hospital. Inside a man is fighting death. Outside four friends are looking up into the dark night sky. Through the nightly mist they can just make out a shape: the cross of the hospital’s chapel, whose light reflection is projected onto the heavenly screen. It moves them deeply since in that moment the sight reminds them that God is there. Many people have prayed trusting in this hope for the patient on the stretcher.
It remains our decision. We can live under the cross of Christ or under chance’s terrible sword of Damocles. Last week a car fell into a ravine outside Curahuasi. Both its drivers were dead instantly. “We do not know when our hour will come,” said a taxi driver who was bringing me to the hospital that morning.
At all times, especially in times of great need and distress, men and women have lifted their eyes up to God. Full of yearning they whispered the words of Christ: “In the world you have great fear, but take heart, I have overcome the world!”
Memories. It was a long time ago. My mother was telling me about her family’s flight from Pomerania. Refugees sitting on their heavily loaded wagons or pulling their carts laden with their belongings formed an unending stream of people. Russian fighter-planes flew overhead firing blindly into the crowds causing death and injury, boundless fear and despair. Crammed together in their nightly refugee camps they cowered. They thought about loved ones of whom no one knew if they were still alive. Suddenly one of them started humming a song – one that had also been sung in the 30 years war, when hunger and pestilence held sway in Europe – and all the others joined in.
Living under the cross. God, do not forget us, we are mortal beings. Here today, gone tomorrow. “Jesus remember me when you come in your glory!”, said one of the criminals crucified with Jesus. “Verily, verily I say unto thee, today you will be with me in paradise!” was the answer of the dying Son of God.
1991 in Quito’s old town. In the darkness on the street outside our hotel Catholic Christians were going on a pilgrimage up the hill towards the cross, calling “God have mercy!” Huddled in our beds my wife and I knew that they were speaking the truth. Without God’s mercy we would all be lost forever. /KDJ