Many years ago, shortly after I decided to follow Christ, I went into a small jewellery store in downtown Toronto and bought a gold crucifix and a gold chain. I’ve worn that crucifix for 25 years and I’ve hardly ever taken it off. A few years ago, I went to get some x-rays done. The technician said, “Take off that necklace, please.” I fumbled with the clasp but couldn’t get it off. She offered to help and, after a few frustrating minutes, we finally removed it.
Sometimes, when I am tempted to despair, I imagine taking off my cross permanently and renouncing the faith. Sometimes, after I’ve sinned, I look at my face and my crucifix in the mirror. This motivates me to repent and to avoid committing more sins. Sometimes, when I think that my life is too hard, I look at my crucifix and I realize that Jesus’ life was much, much harder.
Once, a “born again” Christian saw my crucifix hanging from my neck and rudely said, “Why don’t you take Jesus off the cross and put Him in your heart!”
I was taken aback and didn’t know how to respond. I should have said, “If the cross was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me.” She probably wouldn’t have understood what I meant, since she believed that she was already saved and didn’t need to suffer. But, true Catholics believe that suffering is an unwelcome but necessary part of the journey to heaven. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Two years ago, I decided to take off my crucifix and necklace and inspect them. I noticed that the clasp was damaged and that the link, holding the cross to the chain, and the hole at the top of the cross were nearly worn through. I took it to a jewellery repair shop. The repair wasn’t cheap, but this crucifix (which was blessed by a priest) means a great deal to me.
Oh God, you are my God. You sent Jesus into the world to suffer and to die for my sins. Rugged cross of Christ, you bore the Saviour of the world. Cruel cross of Christ, our Lord suffered and died upon your limbs. Sweet cross of Christ, you represent my hope, my salvation, and Jesus’ love for me.
God will judge each one of us one day, in a very simple way. He will look into our hearts to search for one thing, love. That “born again” woman was partly correct: Jesus should live in our hearts. For that to fully take place, we must undergo our own crucifixion. That is what my gold crucifix reminds me of every day.